Federal scientists say they have tentatively identified the mysterious orange goo that showed up recently in a lagoon near Kivalina. It appears to be a concentration of microscopic eggs.
Jeep Rice, research biologist at the Ted Stevens Marine Institute in Auke Bay, says their lab staff first tried to figure if it was plant, animal, or mineral. Several chemists were called in after the samepls arrived Saturday because of concerns that the substance may be some form of chemical pollution. But Rice says the chemists weren’t needed once they spotted the basic egg structure under a high powered microscope.
“They’re down in the micron range,” says Rice. “A herring egg would be a thousand microns. So (these eggs are) down in the one to ten microns, maybe larger. They’re very, very small.”
Since the eggs are so small and their internal features are very hard to distinquish, it’s unclear what laid the eggs. Rice suspects some sort of invertebrate, perhaps a crustacean like a copepod. But Rice says it’s hard to tell for sure.
The orange color of the goo seems to come from a lipid oil droplet in the center of each egg.
The eggs that were collected for sampling either dried up or died despite being refrigerated for transport.
Area residents were concerned earlier this month when the never-before-seen substance showed up. Rice says it’s possible the eggs just happened to concentrate in that lagoon because of wind or tidal action.
Even though the goo was determined to be natural, Rice would advise against eating or consuming the eggs. There’s a remote possibility they could be toxic in some form.
- The unofficial mayor of Talkeetna, Stubbs the cat, passed away in the overnight hours between Thursday and Friday, according to his owners.
- The Trump administration has directed the National Park Service in Alaska and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to reconsider bans on certain state allowed game harvest techniques.
- Jordan Joplin, 32, of Washington state pleaded not guilty Monday to first- and second-degree murder charges in the the March 16 death of Ketchikan surgeon Dr. Eric Garcia.
- An expedition of Russian adventurers arrived Tuesday in Dillingham for their trip to retrace a route taken by historic Russian explorers. The Russian visitors were greeted in Dillingham by that most American of rituals, a potluck dinner.