NATIONAL NEWS

Wildlife refuge pond in Hawaii mysteriously turns bright pink. Drought may be to blame

Nov 10, 2023, 7:46 AM

Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Pacific Region)...

Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Pacific Region)

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Pacific Region)

HONOLULU (AP) — A pond in Hawaii has turned so bubble-gum pink it could be from the set of “Barbie,” but the bizarre phenomenon is no cause for a dance party. Drought may be to blame for the strange hue, scientists say, and they’re warning against entering the water or drinking it.

Staff at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge on Maui have been monitoring the pink water since Oct. 30.

“I just got a report from somebody that was walking on the beach, and they called me up like, ‘There’s something weird going on over here,’” said Bret Wolfe, the refuge manager.

Wolfe was concerned the bright pink could be a sign of an algae bloom, but lab tests found toxic algae was not causing the color. Instead, an organism called halobacteria might be the culprit.

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.

Maui’s drought is likely contributing to the situation. Normally Waikapu Stream feeds into Kealia 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’s now pink. This will reduce the salinity and potentially change the water’s color.

“That might be what makes it go away,” Wolfe said.

No one at the refuge has seen the pond this color before — not even volunteers who have been around it for 70 years. The pond has been through periods of drought and high salinity before, though, and Wolfe isn’t sure why the color has changed now.

Curious visitors have flocked to the park after photos of the pink pond appeared on social media.

“We prefer that they come to hear about our mission conserving native and endangered waterbirds and our wetland restorations. But no, they’re here to see the pink water,” Wolfe joked.

He understands everyone’s fascination.

“If that’s what gets them there, it’s OK,” he said. “It is neat.”

The wildlife refuge is a wetland that provides nesting, feeding and resting habitat to the endangered Hawaiian stilt, known as aeo, and the Hawaiian coot or alae keokeo. It also hosts migratory birds during the winter.

The water doesn’t appear to be harming the birds, Wolfe said.

As a wildlife refuge, people aren’t supposed to wade into the pond or let their pets in the water regardless of its color. But officials are taking an extra precaution to warn people not to enter the water or eat any fish caught there because the source of the color has yet to be identified.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

FILE - In this July 20, 2017 file photo, former NFL football star O.J. Simpson reacts after learnin...

Associated Press

Executor of O.J. Simpson’s estate plans to fight payout to the families of Brown and Goldman

The executor of O.J. Simpson’s estate says he will work to prevent a payout of a $33.5 million judgment awarded by a California civil jury nearly three decades ago in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the families of Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

8 hours ago

Google argues paying news outlets for their content under a proposed California law would be "unwor...

Eva Rothenberg, CNN

Google removes links to California news sites, citing proposed state law requiring payment to publishers

Google is removing links to California news websites in reaction to proposed state legislation requiring big tech companies to pay news outlets for their content, the company announced Friday in a blog post.

10 hours ago

FILE PHOTO (Getty Images)...

Gerald Herbert and Kevin McGill, Associated Press

Storms bring floods and damaging wind across the South; 1 dead in Mississippi

Severe storms blamed for a death in Mississippi spawned a tornado that demolished buildings in one Louisiana city Wednesday.

10 hours ago

(File photo)...

Jonel Aleccia AP Health Writer

Bird flu is spreading to more farm animals. Are milk and eggs safe?

A bird flu outbreak in U.S. dairy cows has grown to affect more than two dozen herds in eight states, just weeks after the nation's largest egg producer found the virus in its chickens.

12 hours ago

A protestor holds a sign reading 'My Body My Choice' at a Women's March rally where Arizona Secreta...

Steve Peoples and Jonathan J. Cooper Associated Press

A near-total ban on abortion has supercharged the political dynamics of Arizona, a key swing state

Arizona was already expected to be one of the most closely contested states in November's U.S. presidential election. But a ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged the state's role, transforming it into perhaps the nation's most critical battleground.

13 hours ago

Manuel Rocha sitting at a desk smiling...

Denise Royal, Carlos Suarez and Ray Sanchez, CNN

Former US diplomat sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to spying for Cuba

Manuel Rocha, the former US ambassador to Bolivia who acted as a secret foreign agent of Cuba, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges Friday

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Wildlife refuge pond in Hawaii mysteriously turns bright pink. Drought may be to blame