Forget endless white sand beaches: on Indonesia’s Komodo island, there is a beach where the sand is pink. Soft, warm, rosy pink sand that gently filters into the clear Flores Sea.
What makes the sand pink? Let’s go back to basics… Sand comes from rocks and hard materials that are continually being broken down. White sand is predominantly calcium carbonate, tiny bits of fragmented shells; black sand comes from basalt, the product of lava; and the common beachy-brown sand is quartz and feldspar.
And pink sand? That’s from a teensy pink-coloured marine organism called foraminifera.
Foraminifera, the most abundant species of marine plankton, are single-celled organisms. Many foraminifera (scientists say there could be 4000 different species) have symbiotic algae living within their coral skeletons: the algae benefits because it has something on which to grow, and the foraminifera benefits by digesting the waste produced by the algae. It’s this waste absorption that, scientists believe, gives red foraminifera their colour.