Step into the enchanting world of Kealia Pond in Hawaii, where nature has painted a fairy-tale scene on the water canvas.
Imagine a pond transformed into a mesmerising shade of bright pink, capturing the attention of all who behold it. This magical phenomenon, unfolding at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge on the island of Maui, has left officials astonished since at least October 30.
Delving into the secrets of this whimsical transformation, water samples sent to the University of Hawaii reveal that the culprit behind this mystical magenta hue is none other than halobacteria. These resilient single-celled organisms, known as extremophiles, thrive in intensely salty environments, reminiscent of the Great Salt Lake and the Dead Sea. Kealia Pond, originally named for “salt encrustation,” has seen its salinity levels soar to extraordinary heights due to Maui’s severe drought, turning it into a haven for these brilliantly coloured bacteria.
Picture the Waikapu Stream, a lifeline from the West Maui Mountains to Kealia Pond, winding through a region gripped by an extreme drought. The diminished flow of freshwater into the pond has caused the salt concentration to rise, creating a perfect sanctuary for the vibrant halobacteria. This captivating natural display is not isolated, as over 90% of Maui County, including surrounding islands, grapples with severe drought conditions, exacerbated by a devastating wildfire in Lahaina.
As scientists delve into the complex relationship between the climate crisis and Hawaii, a resounding consensus emerges—drought is set to intensify with the rising global temperatures, even in the lush landscapes of the tropics.