HONOLULU (AP) — New marine life has formed in pools at a black sand beach created by the Kilauea volcano eruption, according to researchers in Hawaii.
Hawaiian red shrimp are beginning to thrive at the site of a former boat ramp on Hawaii Island’s Pohoiki shoreline, Hawaii Public Radio reported Nov. 18.
More than 700 homes were destroyed after Kilauea erupted in May 2018.
State Department of Land and Natural Resources researchers observed the activity in newly formed anchialine pools, which are land-locked and filled with brackish water. The pools that formed 14 months after Kilauea’s lava stopped flowing are connected to the ocean and the area’s groundwater and flow with the tide.
New coastlines such as the one formed by the eruption can be difficult to observe, state biologist Troy Sakihara said.
“The coastline is still very unstable and, even if new habitats form, sometimes the new coastline breaks off,” Sakihara said.
The biggest threats to the shrimp are invasive and introduced fish.
“Anchialine habitats are naturally free of fish so these shrimps can thrive in them, but anytime invasive fish are introduced to these ponds, it throws the ecosystem off balance,” Sakihara said. “A lot of the times, these fish are actually introduced whether intentionally or unintentionally by humans.”
Sakihara encouraged people to enjoy the sight of the pools without disturbing them, noting that sunscreen and body oil can harm the wildlife.
“Just like the coral reef, trying to reduce direct human impact, we try to discourage people from jumping in or swimming in or bathing in these pools just to minimize the impact we have on the habitat,” he said. “The anchialine habitat that are forming at Pohoiki affords us a unique opportunity to be proactive with our management.”