Contamination Has Turned Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela Neon Green

The unusual lake color is caused by worsening contamination.

Residents of Zulia in Venezuela are accustomed to the dark waters of Lake Maracaibo, which were tinted black by oil pollution. 

But now, worsening contamination has changed the lake's color to neon green.

Oil leaking from rusted pipelines, untreated sewage from Maracaibo, Zulia, and growing plastic contamination, are pushing nitrogen and phosphorus levels up and are allowing algae to spread much quicker.

Biologists say the invasive single-cell algae has created a green carpet that prevents sunlight from reaching plant life deeper in the lake. It also stops oxygen generation vital for the lake's animal life to survive.

Before a years-long recession and hyperinflation, which has caused millions of citizens to leave, Zulia was an essential producer of meat and milk.

Now, even the country's fish population has been depleted.

"Before you saw more fish," fisherman Herberto Molero said. "Now you see more oil, more duckweed. When you pass by the beaches, you can see the diesel spills, plastic fuel tanks. Everything is thrown into the lake."

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