Scientists have reported that a pond in Hawaii has taken on a bright pink color similar to the shade of bubble-gum found on the set of the popular children’s toy, “Barbie.” However, this unusual occurrence is not something to celebrate. Experts believe that the drought in the area may be responsible for the change in color and are advising against swimming or drinking from the pond.
Employees at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge on Maui have been observing the rose-colored water since October 30th.
Bret Wolfe, the manager of the refuge, reported receiving a call from a person walking on the beach who noticed something unusual.
Wolfe was worried that the vibrant pink hue could indicate an algae bloom, but after conducting laboratory tests, it was determined that toxic algae was not the cause of the color. It is possible that halobacteria, a type of organism, may be responsible for the hue.
Halobacteria are a type of archaea or single-celled organism that thrive in bodies of water with high levels of salt. The salinity inside the Kealia Pond outlet area is currently greater than 70 parts per thousand, which is twice the salinity of seawater. Wolfe said the lab will need to conduct a DNA analysis to definitively identify the organism.
The dry conditions in Maui are likely playing a role in the current situation. Typically, Waikapu Stream supplies water to Kealia Pond and increases the water levels, but according to Wolfe, this has not occurred in quite some time.
During precipitation, the stream will run into the primary pond of Kealia and then into the pink-colored outlet area. This could potentially alter the water’s color due to decreased salinity.
Wolfe suggested that it could be the solution to making it disappear.
None of the individuals at the sanctuary have witnessed the pond in this hue previously – not even the volunteers who have been present for seven decades. Despite experiencing periods of drought and elevated salinity in the past, Wolfe is uncertain as to why the color has altered at this time.
Intrigued individuals have gathered at the park following the circulation of pictures of the rose-colored pond on social media.
“We would rather they came to learn about our efforts in preserving native and endangered waterbirds and restoring wetlands. However, it seems they are more interested in seeing the pink water,” Wolfe quipped.
He comprehends the captivation of others.
“It’s fine if that’s what helps them reach their goal,” he stated. “It’s quite impressive.”
The wetland of the wildlife sanctuary serves as a home for the endangered Hawaiian stilt, also known as aeo, and the Hawaiian coot or alae keokeo, providing them with nesting, feeding, and resting areas. Additionally, it is a temporary home for migratory birds in the winter season.
According to Wolfe, the birds do not seem to be negatively affected by the water.
As a sanctuary for wildlife, it is prohibited for individuals to enter the pond or bring their pets into the water, regardless of its appearance. However, authorities are issuing an additional warning to refrain from entering the water or consuming any fish caught there, as the cause of the unusual color has not yet been determined.