‘It’s Not A Halloween Prank’ – What’s Behind A Maui Pond’s Mysterious Pink Colour?
A coastal pond in Maui, in the US state of Hawaii, has turned so pink it could be from the set of ‘Barbie’. But the beautiful yet bizarre phenomenon is no cause for a dance party.
Staff at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge have been monitoring the pink water since October 30. The waterbody is home to fish and birds who do not seem to be affected.
Bret Wolfe, the refuge manager, was concerned the mysterious pink could be a sign of an algae bloom. But lab tests gave out a different culprit. It could be an organism called halobacteria.
Maui’s Drought May Be To Blame
The salinity inside the Kealia Pond outlet area is currently greater than 70 parts per thousand – twice the salinity of seawater. Halobacteria thrive in bodies of water with high levels of salt.
The drought in Maui is likely the culprit. Normally Waikapu Stream feeds into the pond and raises water levels there, but Wolfe said that hasn’t happened in a long time.
When it rains, the stream will flow into Kealia’s main pond and then into the outlet area that has turned bubblegum pink. This will reduce the salinity and potentially change the water’s colour.
People Asked To Take Precautions
The pond has been through periods of drought and high salinity before. But no one at the refuge has seen it turn this colour before – not even volunteers who have been around it for 70 years.
The wildlife refuge is a wetland that hosts migratory birds during the winter and offers a nesting, feeding and resting habitat to the endangered Hawaiian stilt and the Hawaiian coot.
Although the pond doesn’t appear to be harming the birds, people have been warned against entering the water or letting their pets in or eating any fish caught there.
“It’s Not A Joke. It’s Not … It’s Real Life”
After photos of the bright pink pond surfaced online, curious visitors have been flocking to the park. “We prefer that they come to hear about our … wetland restorations,” Wolfe said.
“It’s not a joke. It’s not, it’s not a Halloween prank or anything of that nature,” said Stephanie Stack, chief research biologist for Pacific Whale Foundation.
The non-profit noted Kealia Pond used to be connected to the ocean, but not for the last few years, and the drought situation in West Maui also added to the chaos.