Stop Touching our Barbie Pond, Federal Agency Warns Influencers

FREMONT, CALIFORNIA – This Fall, a Barbie-inspired army of influencers has descended on Fremont, California’s iconic pink-colored salt ponds, hoping to take unique photos for social media.

The problem has gotten so bad that the National Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the Federal government, has stepped in to warn would-be influencers to stay away from these Barbie-colored ponds.

“Pond A12 has gained popularity for its Barbie Pink color. But did you know this pond is part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in California?” the agency wrote in a Facebook post.

The salt ponds, which are visible from the air when approaching San Francisco International Airport, have been a feature of the southern tip of the Bay for generations. 

Now, apparently, their unique color is attracting the social media set. And that’s a problem for Bay Area wildlife.

Credit: National Fish and Wildlife Service

“These ponds provide a home to migratory and resident birds, including threatened and endangered birds like the cute western snowy plover,” the agency writes in its post. “To keep you and the wildlife safe, stay… Please take pictures from the trail, not the pond.”

That’s right—these pink ponds are apparently so visually compelling that people have been wading into them in order to snap the perfect Instagram photo.

In doing so, they risk damaging a highly sensitive part of the Bay’s ecology.

Rather than wading into the ponds, the Fish and Wildlife Service recommends snapping pics from the nearby Alvisio Slough trail instead. To illustrate the point, the agency included a photo of a very dapper-looking park ranger in their post.

Credit: National Fish and Wildlife Service

The agency also dropped some knowledge, answering a common question: Is the pink color a result of pollution?

“Don’t worry, it’s natural. Tiny microscopic organisms specialized to live in very salty water live here, including the microscopic algae known as Dunaliella salina and halobacterium,” the agency writes.

So basically the ponds are filled with salt and tiny microorganisms. One more reason not to go wading in them.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

One Comment

  1. It is important to note that this pond is in San Jose. Refuge Headquarters is located in Fremont but this specific pond, A12, is located in Alviso. The Refuge is 30,000 acres and spans 3 counties. Thanks for helping spread the word!

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