Orange goo floating off Kivalina not eggs but fungal spores

August 18, 2011 

The orange substance floats offshore of Kivalina in Northwest Alaska.

PHOTO COURTESY CITY OF KIVALINA VIA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A federal lab in South Carolina has identified the orange "goo" floating off Kivalina in Northwest Alaska earlier this month as spores from a land-based fungus that infects plants, report The Tundra Drums and National Public Radio.

From NPR:

"At this point, the best identification we can give to as the origin of these spores is a rust fungus," says Steve Morton, Ph.D., who works in the NOAA lab in Charleston, S.C., that conducted the full analysis. "The spores are unlike others we and our network of specialists have examined; however, many rust fungi of the Arctic tundra have yet to be identified." ...

NOAA says that the disease "infects only plants, causing a rust-like appearance on leaves and stems. Rust fungi reproduce to infect other plants by releasing spores which disperse often times great distances by wind and water."

Alaska-based scientists originally believed the goo was composed of microscopic eggs, likely from a crustacean species.

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