Swimmers, surfers and snorkelers in Hawaii are being warned to stay away from the beaches over fears that a large-scale fish kill caused by 223,000-gallon molasses spill could attract sharks.
Health officials say so many fish have been killed by the 1,400 ton leak from a pipeline first spotted on Tuesday that it could lead to an increase in predator species such as sharks, barracuda and eels.
Meanwhile, authorities conceded that there was little they could do to clean up the brown plume that had essentially suffocated thousands of fish in the harbor west of downtown Honolulu.
“Our best advice as of this morning is to let nature take its course,” Gary Gill, deputy director of the Hawaii Department of Health, told reporters early Friday at a news conference at the harbor, according to The Associated Press.
The AP reports that a senior executive for Matson Navigation Co., the company that maintained the faulty pipe, said the firm was taking responsibility “but hadn’t planned ahead of time for the possibility of a spill.”
Roger Smith, a dive shop owner and himself a diver for 37 years said told Reuters the spill is unlike anything he’d ever seen.
“Everything that was underwater suffocated,” Smith told the news agency after diving to have a look. “Everything climbed out of its hole and the whole bottom was covered with fish, crabs, lobsters, worms, sea fans - anything that was down there was dead.”