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Rural Alaska

Orange 'goo' in Alaska village actually crustacean eggs

  • Author: Craig Medred
  • Updated: September 27, 2016
  • Published August 8, 2011

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has identified the strange orange material that showed up in the waters of Kivalina last week as small -- and possibly toxic -- crustacean eggs. The "goo," as it was dubbed, showed up in the Northwest Alaska village last Wednesday and made national news as the mystery substance began showing up in rainwater buckets and even on the roof of one building in the village. The NOAA ruled out any man-made products and was initially looking at the possibility of some kind of algae, but a press release declared on Monday that the substance floating atop the waters of Kivalina was actually made up of eggs from an unidentified crustacean.

"We now think these are some sort of small crustacean egg or embryo, with a lipid oil droplet in the middle causing the orange color," Jeep Rice, a lead NOAA scientist at the Juneau lab, said in the press release. "So this is natural. It is not chemical pollution; it is not a man-made substance."

NOAA scientists were not able to determine what animal the eggs came from or whether they were toxic, and samples were sent to a lab on the East Coast for further study, according to the release. The material had mostly disappeared from the waters of Kivalina by the end of last week.

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