Aloha and welcome to Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge! Part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, Keālia is a sanctuary for many species that are native and endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.
Pink waters on Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge from halobacteria bloom
Keālia Pond halobacteria pink water

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff at Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge have been monitoring the pink water on site since October 30, and have been working with the Hawaiʻi State Department of Aquatic Resources and Department of Health to identify what is causing it and to determine a course of action.   

Water samples were taken and sent to the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) for analysis. Preliminary analysis suggests:   

  • It is not likely a toxic algae, for example - the type that produces red tides. 
  • It appears to be a single-celled organism called halobacteria. Halobacteria are salt-loving organisms found in high salinity water bodies. The salinity in the Keālia Pond outlet is currently greater than 70 part per thousand, or twice the salinity of seawater. 
  • It is this high salinity water in the outlet that is providing favorable conditions for the halobacteria, producing the pink color.   

UH is doing more analyses to determine the exact strain of the halobacteria. We will be continuing to gather information and will keep the public informed. 

As a precautionary measure, we recommend that people keep a safe distance and not enter the water, don’t consume any fish from the water, and ensure that pets don’t drink the water. 

Drones are not allowed on the Refuge.  Drones cause disturbance to the birds foraging, nesting, and resting on the refuge.  Link here for a list of the refuge rules and policies.

Visit Us

The seasonal conditions that occur at Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge make it a notable place for people to observe Hawai‘i's endangered wetland birds, along with a diversity of feathered visitors from as far away as Alaska and Canada, and occasionally from Asia.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      Keālia Pond NWR is a hidden wetland treasure transitioning the urban development and agriculture fields.  Here, endangered Hawaiian waterbirds are protected and go about their daily activities, and are joined by migratory birds in winter.  Quiet solitude for those that wander and explore the wetlands.  

      The protected wetland is home to the endangered ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt) and ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot), providing nesting, feeding and resting habitat. In the winter months there are over 30 species of waterfowl, shorebirds, and migratory ducks at the refuge. 

      What We Do

      The National Wildlife Refuge System is a series of lands and waters owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the refuge system. It drives everything we do from the purpose a refuge is established, to the recreational activities offered there, to the resource management tools we use. Selecting the right tools helps us ensure the survival of local plants and animals and helps fulfill the purpose of the refuge.