A river flowing near the Digity mud volcanoes in South Trinidad has turned blood red and is now making waves on social media.
The source of the strange colouring in the river is now the subject of an investigation by the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).
While social media bloggers have already begun prophesying that the red river was an indication of doomsday, EMA managing director Hayden Romano said he planned to dispatch teams to take samples of the river water for testing. Romano said he did not know what caused the river to turn red but once investigations are complete, a statement will be issued.
The river was first highlighted on Facebook by The Intellectual, which wrote, “On a trek searching for mud volcanoes in South Trinidad, The Intellectual chanced upon this river flowing red at Digity Mud Volcano. There are several reasons a river can turn red, from natural to artificial means. If dissolved oxygen levels in the water begin to decrease, as could be possible in the dry season, Chromatiaceae bacteria, which thrives in oxygen-depleted waters, can rapidly multiply turning it red. Erosion or even pollution can also cause a river to turn red. Whatever the reason, it was the most amazing sight!”
Commentators suggested various reasons for the phenomenon.
Sabrina Seemungal wrote, “Jesus is coming soon!!!
Shane Ghouralal wrote, “Moses probably touch it with he rod.”
Sara Chaitram wrote, “ If the water smells fresh like blood, then its sacrifice being done there.”
However, a senior geoscientist said the vivid red colour of the river was unusual and there was a possibility it was polluted by a red contaminant.
This, however, is not the first river to have turned blood red.
A report done by environmentalist Wade Sheppard, titled “What can cause a river to turn red,” stated that massive amounts of soil being deposited into a body of water through erosion can change its colour to red if the soil is this hue. However, there is no erosion at the Digity volcano.
The article also said red tides can cause discolouration. Red tides are events in which estuarine, marine or freshwater algae accumulate rapidly in a body of water, resulting in its discolouration at the surface. Increased salination and decreased oxygen in the water are two other reasons why bodies of water can turn blood red, as well as pollution, the dumping of sediments, dye dumping or industrialisation.
However, there is no industrialisation near the Digity volcanoes, which jut out into the horizon amidst the agricultural estates of the Picton Estate Road. The volcanic clay is said to be over 11 million years old and the volcano has the single largest cone in T&T, which measures 20 feet above the ground and is 63 feet above sea level.
Teams from the University of the West Indies are also expected to visit the river.
Penal Debe Regional Corporation chairman Dr Allen Sammy said yesterday that his teams will also be out investigating the source of the contaminant.
“We were told by three different sources that the river is heavily polluted. Vegetation has been dying on the river bank. People use that water for various things including agriculture. There is a window fabricating company there as well and that company among others will be investigated,” Sammy said.
If it is proven that someone deliberately polluted the river, offenders can be charged by the EMA.