A pond in Hawaii has confused locals as it turned a vivid bright pink for the first time ever.
Social media users have joked and dubbed the phenomenon the ‘Barbie pond’ after visitors of the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge on Maui noticed and snapped pictures of the change. Some volunteers at the parks have worked there for 70 years and can’t recall this colour change happening before.
The refuge manager said he first noticed something had happened to the water when a local taking a walk on the beach alerted him. While many people found the change fun, Bret Wolfe thought it was a cause for concern.
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He said “There's something weird going on over here." The colour change is out of the ordinary and while scientists are still not certain on the cause, they believe it is for a negative reason.
Parts of Hawaii are currently experiencing a severe drought, including Maui, which has been struggling for water for a while. Experts say the drought could be the reason for the pond’s colour change.
It was also suggested that toxic algae could be the culprit, which would put the pond and wildlife at great danger. However, tests were promptly carried out to find this was not the problem. Tests at the labs drew a blank.
Scientists then theorised that an organism called halo bacteria might be the problem. While this is not proved to be the cause, Halobacteria is a type of organism that thrives in water with a high-salt content, such as the Kealia Pond.
Proteins the organism feed on produce a pigment which turn them pink. A high presence of them is enough to turn a whole pond a bubble-gum pink. While it looks fun, this could be a sign of severe environmental stress.
The salt levels in the pond are currently twice as high as seawater, but Bret claims that the pond has experienced periods of high salt content before and never had this problem. While the DNA analysis still needs to be undergone, Bret worried that this could be a negative side affect of climate change.
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Visitors have been warned not to approach or enter the water. There are also strict rules to not touch or eat any fish that have been caught in the pond.
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