On Wednesday, adventurer Alison Teal posted a video to YouTube of her swimming near the ocean entry of the active lava flow emanating from the Kilauea volcano inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
The video of Teal, who runs the blog Alison’s Adventures and lives on Big Island, swimming near the ocean entry has since gone viral, garnering over 100,000 views on YouTube since then.
While Teal is shown attempting to surf near the active flow, she never manages to catch a wave.
“This was a lifelong dream. It was humbling, breath-taking and very hot,” Teal told the Mirror afterwards. “I was hoping to catch a wave, however, when I got in close I was hit by a spatter of hardening rock spray and I quickly ducked under water.”
Some, however, weren’t as thrilled about the 30-year-old adventurer’s stunt, and say Teal took unnecessary risks.
“Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time a reckless thrill-seeker has sought their 15 seconds of fame by doing something irresponsible and dangerous around active volcanoes and sharing it to social media,” Jessica Ferracane, a spokesperson for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, told GrindTV.
“It serves only one purpose: self-promotion. This type of careless behavior is not just potentially deadly to themselves, but to first responders who might have to rescue them, or recover their body,” Ferracane continued. “The active lava flows can be safely observed by hiking out to them, and obeying all posted safety signs.”
Teal said she was hit with hardening rock spray while paddling near the ocean entry. According to Ferracane, the dangers of swimming that close to an active lava flow go beyond that.
“Venturing too close to an ocean entry exposes you to flying debris created by the explosive interaction between lava and water,” said Ferracane. “Also, the new land created is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea.”
If one of those lava deltas collapses into the ocean while people are near it, Ferracane said it can create plumes of toxic steam, hurtle dangerous blocks of hot rocks hundreds of yards and suck nearby kayakers, swimmers and paddleboarders into a tumultuous wave of scalding seawater, all of which can be potentially deadly.
Teal warned others on her social media postings not to follow her lead because of the danger it poses, and stated that she was given “guidance, support, and prayer” from Hawaiian elders. According to Hawaiian culture, molten lava is the physical embodiment of Pele, the volcano goddess, and demands respect.
Despite her assurances, some viewers on Facebook felt like Teal was disrespecting Hawaiian tradition.
“With your aggressive splash of water and your ‘calling someone out’ raised hand and arm gestures, that was a total sign of disrespect to TuTu Pele ame AnaKe Hi’iaka,” wrote one commenter. “So to the young surfer girls watching this, DO NOT COPY THIS CHICK. Keep your distance, gain respect and you won’t be swimming back a scared visitor.”
More from GrindTV