(CBS News) -- Diver Roger White took his camera below the water’s surface to record the results of what 233,000 gallons of molasses has done to the sea life in Honolulu Harbor.
“They’re all dead and they’re all just laying across the bottom - hundreds and hundreds, thousands.”
Dave Bader, a marine biologist at Southern California’s Aquarium of the Pacific, said “clearly it looks as if they’re suffering. They’re suffocating.”
Bader said that as the molasses breaks down, it robs the fish of oxygen. And it’s likely eating away at the coral reefs.
“We are talking decades, centuries, thousands of years for some of these corals to form and in Hawaii, it is a distressed environment to begin with,” Bader said.
Complicating the cleanup - the company that caused the spill, Matson Navigation, says it has plans for oil and chemical spills but none for molasses. As officials figure how to get rid of the mess, the toll grows higher.
“It seems like everything at all depths and at all levels of the food chain are being affected,” Bader said.
The impact also extends to Honolulu’s tourism industry.
Ray Collier, who runs a fishing and diving business, said it’s not just the sight of decomposing fish that’s turning people away, but the fear that large predators may come looking for them.
“They have concerns with the sharks in the area,” Collier said.
“It’s important to remember sharks are fish themselves. It seems to be that all fish in this area are being impacted. Sharks would be impacted just the same as everything else,” Bader said.
The EPA hopes to have a team in place by Sunday, but the cleanup could take weeks.
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