Mystery of Alaska’s Orange Goo 15-31

UFOalien-through-the-windowIs this another cryptid creature perhaps spawned by aliens or a vindictive government? Or could it be something closer to home exhibiting strange behavior for reasons unknown? With good observation and detecting skills, this mystery comes to light!

I always love when strange things drop out of the sky or wash up on some forlorn shore. It usually sends people into a tizzy and the results are often quite amusing.  In this case we’re talking about a huge pile of orange goo that washed up on the coastal shore of Alaska’s Kivalina village in the Fall of 2011.

I have to confess, I lost track of this story in the foot-tall stacks of research and information that are  standing at attention all around my desk. Mercifully, the universe passed it in front of my eyes again, so I went in search of the answers.

OrangeGoo01First Assumptions

Many were saying it was some kind of spawn sent by aliens to sicken if not downright kill us. Others instantly recognized it as a ruse by the government to sicken our waters and eventually exterminate us.  The alternative would be some mysterious experiment by our military gone horribly wrong.

Um hmm. Moving along. The first people to investigate were the researchers at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Bearing in mind that their expertise lies in oceans and the atmosphere, they gave it their best shot. First impressions led them to believe it was a super sized mass of crustacean eggs, colored orange by the oils inside each little egg.

OrangeGoo02ByGastonLaflammeUpon further analysis they figured out it was the spores of a fungus called “rust.” If you garden at all, you’ll have heard of that phylum of trouble.  But they couldn’t pinpoint exactly which form of rust it was. For all they knew, it could be a new unidentified species. (Photo right of rust on spruce bough by Gaston Laflamme of the Canadian Forest Service.)

Call In the Big Guns

The next group to take a crack at the identity was the USDA Forest Service in conjunction with the Canadian Forest Service. In February of 2012 they announced that the orange goo was urediniospores, a form of rust called the Spruce-Labrador Tea Needle Rust (Chrysomyxa ledicola).

OrangeGoo03DavidWartinbeeThe researchers noticed in parts of Alaska near the orange goo sighting, the spruce trees were heavily infected with the rust. According to professor of aquatic biology at Kenai Peninsula College, David Wartinbee (photo left), who was investigating another outbreak of the orange goo on a pair of twin lakes, “I believe that the mass of spores may have come from a huge terrestrial infection of spruce trees. Local winds may have then concentrated the spores into a visible mass on the lake. I am betting that this is the reason Kivalina experienced a similar appearance of the orange mass on their shores.”

NOAA confirmed that there are plenty of black spruce and Labrador tea (a species of rhododendron) around the greater Kivalina area.

 

B0ADH4 An aerial view of the Alaskan Native community of Kivalina on the Chukchi Sea in northwestern Alaska
B0ADH4 An aerial view of the Alaskan Native community of Kivalina on the Chukchi Sea in northwestern Alaska

Solved

So another mystery is solved and really, it’s an incredible story on its own. I know we focus on cryptids in this blog, and unusual places and phenomenon, but at times nature still seems to be the biggest cryptid of all, doesn’t it?

Have you ever seen anything like this orange goo?

References

http://www.livescience.com/33750-alaska-orange-goo-mystery-solved.html

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/mystery-of-alaskan-goo-rust-solved-at-last/

http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r10/forest-grasslandhealth/?cid=fsbdev2_038417

 

 

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