Molasses Spill Killing Reef Fish In Honolulu Harbor

Yellow tang and other reef fish are seeking safe waters nearshore.

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Butterflyfish, eels, and other reef fish are seeking safe haven nearshore. Screengrab via KITV
John Virata

A massive molasses spill in Hawaii’s Honolulu Harbor is killing potentially thousands of reef and other fish species and there is no known way for the state to clean the spill up, according to a report from Hawaii News Now. According to the report, the molasses was being loaded onto a California-bound Matson cargo ship when the pipe used to load the molasses sprung a leak yesterday, discharging more than 200,000 gallons of the sweet and sticky stuff into the harbor. State reef biologist Dave Gulko told Hawaii News Now that the molasses has caused reef and other fish that would normally never be seen at the shore line to come in because the molasses is sucking up all the oxygen in the water, preventing the fish from breathing. Gulko said that the molasses is sinking, and those fish at depth are suffocating, causing the die-off. The only thing that can be done is to wait for the molasses to disperse.

Matson, which is one of several shipping companies that serve the Hawaiian islands, issued the following statement: Matson regrets that the incident impacted many harbor users as well as wildlife. We are taking steps to ensure this situation does not happen again.”

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While the molasses is not a pollutant, Gulko said that the fish die off could cause an increase in sharks and barracuda in the area and advises that the public stay out of the Keehi Lagoon because of the large amount of dead fish in the ocean around the lagoon. The long term effects of the spill could include an increase in bacteria and algae as the molasses is very nutrient rich.

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Fish · Lifestyle