Tourists are flocking to a strange bubblegum-pink pond in Hawaii

  • A pond on the island of Maui, Hawaii, has become a tourist destination in recent weeks.

  • The pond recently turned a bright pink color.

  • Scientists hypothesize a draught may be causing this change, although they can't say for sure yet.

Tourists have been flocking to a bright pink pond on the island of Maui, in Hawaii, in recent weeks.

The pond, called Keālia Pond, has been monitored by the Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge since October 30, when its color changed.

Scientists have been unable to pinpoint the exact reason for this change, but they hypothesize a drought may be to blame and are warning against drinking the water or swimming in it, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The drought has likely caused the salt levels in the water to grow and an increase in halobacteria organisms, causing the pink hue.

Halobacteria are "salt-loving organisms found in high salinity water bodies," according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The salinity in the pond is currently twice that of seawater.

This Nov. 8, 2023, photo provided by Leslie Diamond shows the pond at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge on Maui, Hawaii.
The Keālia Pond turned pink on October 30, 2023. This picture was taken on November 8.Leslie Diamond/AP

While the pond has experienced drought and periods of high salinity in the past, this is the first time it has turned pink, the AP reported.

Bret Wolfe, the refuge manager, told the AP that he's seen an increase in tourist visits since the pink pond first 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," he told the AP. "If that's what gets them there, it's OK. It is neat."

The pond is home to two endangered species of birds, the  ae'o (Hawaiian stilt) and 'alae ke'oke'o (Hawaiian coot), and provides nesting, feeding, and resting habitat to them.

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