A mysterious orange goo found on the shore of a remote Alaska village earlier this month has been identified as fungal spores.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a news release on Thursday stating that the orange goo is consistent with spores from a fungus that causes rust, a plant-only disease that leaves a rust-like appearance on leaves and stems.
Whether the spore is among the 7,800 known species of rust fungi is still unknown, NOAA said.
The spores are unlike others we and our network of specialists have examined, said Steve Morton, a research oceanographer with the Charleston lab, in a news release. However, many rust fungi of the Arctic tundra have yet to be identified.
The goo was found at the edge of Kivalina, an Inupiat Eskimo community at the tip of a barrier reef on Alaska's northwest coast. It quickly disappeared, but many of the 347 residents in the village are still worried whether there will be any long-term effects. That there is still some mystery to the identified fungus, may do little to ease those worries.
City administrator Janet Mitchell has said those fears will only intensify with the latest analysis, as it didn't include toxicity tests, according to the Washington Post.
Mitchell is also worried about the community's dwindling reserves in village water tanks that will need to be topped off, the paper added.
We are going have more concern from the public, she said. If I'm concerned, then there will be others with concerns.
Before determining that the goo was fungus, NOAA had said it was millions of microscopic eggs filled with fatty droplets. Samples were sent to a NOAA laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, for further analysis and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation also sent samples to the Institute for Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.