Monday, August 8, 2011

The secret of the ooze


Orange goo has been washing up on the Alaskan shore of Kivalina. It's also been spotted floating in the harbor, in Buckland River (150 miles away!), and in rainwater. RAINWATER?? Yes, you read that correctly. People put out buckets overnight and found this orange goo had been collected with the rain the next day.

the floating orange mystery off Kivalina, AK

People from Kivalina, an Inupiat Eskimo village 625 miles northwest of Anchorage, were baffled; none of their 374 residents had ever seen anything like the orange goo before.

Kivalina, Alaska (marked as the orange blob) and Buckland River (orange pin);
you can see Anchorage in the map on the right, labelled and marked by a small blue dot

What's the answer to this quandary? Juneau scientists are saying this orange goo is in fact crustacean eggs/embryos (remember learning about the different colors of crab clutches throughout embryo development here?). Jeep Rice from NOAA's Auke Bay Lab confirmed (here) that the substance, "... is natural. It is not chemical pollution; it is not a man-made substance." Great!

Yum! a sample at the AK DEC, Anchorage

But wait, what kind of crustacean is it? And more importantly, HOW DID THEY GET INTO THE RAIN!?!?!? Seriously, people, should I expect to get crab cakes with my Juneau rain from now on? (Maybe a little remoulade too?) As long as bears aren't suddenly awesome at karate, I'm pretty OK with that.

"We just got back from a fishing trip in Alaska!"

Follow-up: see what scientists are saying the ooze is now in the blog post "Orange Goo Update"


  1. Did you see this? Now they're saying the goo was fungal spores! Way more plausible, hey?

  2. I just heard about that this morning! Thanks for the link; I'll be sure to post an update!