The mysterious orange colored goo that washed upon the shores of an Alaskan village last week has been identified. Denying rumors that suggested that the orange stuff was a form of alien life, Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) lab said on Monday that it was a mass of microscopic eggs filled with fatty droplets, most likely to be of a small crustacean.
The emergence of the substance on the shores of Kivalina in northwest Alaska shocked residents on Wednesday. According to Julie Speegle, representative of the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Auke Bay Laboratories, further testing of the substance will help to determine whether the eggs are toxic.
"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 a release.
"So this is natural. It is not chemical pollution; it is not a man-made substance," Rice added.
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Scientists believe that the substance is some kind of crustacean eggs; however, they are not sure enough about the species. They also don't know whether the substance is poisonous. This is what makes the residents of Kivalina, an Inupiat Eskimo community, worried.
"Certain organisms can produce toxins, and you can't tell if that's the case (here) until you know what species it is," said Emanuel Hignutt, analytical chemistry manager for the state Environmental Health Laboratory.
"It was easy to see cellular structure surrounding the lipid droplet, and to identify this as 'animal'," said Rice. "We have determined these are small invertebrate eggs, although we cannot tell which species."
According to Janet Mitchell, Kivalina city administrator, the substance may have rained down on the village Wednesday evening as it was found in buckets used by some residents to collect rainwater that night.
The samples of the mysterious substance have sent to the Institute for Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Monday.