Mystery substance comes to shore of Alaskan village
This orange substance was found on the shore of Kivalina, Alaska, on Wednesday, residents say.
August 5th, 2011
09:44 PM ET

Mystery substance comes to shore of Alaskan village

State and federal scientists are trying to identify a mysterious orange substance that washed up on the shore of a village in northwestern Alaska this week.

Residents on Wednesday noticed an orange sheen in the lagoon in front of Kivalina, Alaska, and clumps of the substance on the beach, city manager Janet Mitchell said.

An orange sheen could be seen in the lagoon.

The stuff on the shore had "an oily feel to it, like baby oil," resident Mida Swan said Friday. She said she detected no odor from the substance.

The substance also may have rained down on the village Wednesday evening, because it was found in buckets that some residents used to collect rainwater that night, Mitchell said.

The state Environmental Health Laboratory is preparing to send samples to scientists at various labs, including a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration laboratory, said Emanuel Hignutt, the EHL's analytical chemistry manager.

Hignutt said it's not immediately clear what the substance is.

"There doesn't appear to be any evidence of a release of oil or hazardous substances at this time, but we're continuing to investigate and try to get lab determinations on what exactly the material is," Hignutt said.

"What it is - an algal bloom, or something inorganic - that's what we're working to get some more information on," he said.

Mitchell said the substance also was found in the Wulik River, which flows into the lagoon and is a source of the village's drinking water. She said the village would delay topping off its water storage tanks, which it does every summer so that it has enough water for the winter, until the substance is identified.

Kivalina, a village of about 430 people, is about 650 miles northwest of Anchorage, Alaska.

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Filed under: Alaska • Environment
soundoff (543 Responses)
  1. Rob MIch

    "an oily feel to it, like baby oil," resident Mida Swan said Friday. Yeah.... I'd probably not be touching the mysterious orange goo that came from the sky and/or washed ashore.

    August 6, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ted

    sorry guys, it was me. ate some funky stuff and the shore was the closest place to do number 2.

    August 6, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. erzhik

    semen from aliens..

    I called it first!

    August 6, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. UCFKnightman

    First thing I'd do is test for never know...

    August 6, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  5. Robb1371

    Looks like Syracuse Orange men football team jerseys took a swim.

    August 6, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. RGeneration

    Sponge Bob???

    August 6, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mad Hatter

    Raining goo? Sounds like an airplane or UFO dumped something overhead. However, doesn't sound safe to live in that area. Especially if the water supply has been contaminated. I'd pack up and move to a safer place.

    August 6, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  8. rwristheac

    Can you see Russia from there?? Drill Baby Drill!!

    August 6, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Drill, baby, drill made it land in BUCKETS sitting outside, huh? Massive gusher that went into the stratosphere?
      Or is it only your idiocy that reaches to stratospheric heights?
      I'm thinking the latter.

      August 6, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. raven

    Hey CSinSC.. Over here!!! See me ? I see you!!

    August 6, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ben

    Well, Kraft did say they were splitting into two companies... Maybe this is where their 'Cheese' is relocating to.

    August 6, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. David ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hey, will you guys visit HelpFaye.ORG a friend of mine is fighting for her life... Thanks

    August 6, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      She'd doing a pretty impressive job, fighting for her life 10 years after her DEATH.

      August 6, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. forcebomber

    Who you gonna call, Ghostbusters!

    August 6, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. infernalpix

    Palin yeast infection got out of control

    August 6, 2011 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. Rhiannon

    I've seen this stuff before. It leaks from airplanes. I live near San Francisco and we are directly underneath many air planes on their way to SFO. Once or twice a year this strange oily orange/yellow goop will fall down from a plane. It kills everything. It even burned through the astro turf we have in the front yard.

    August 6, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • ZweiStein

      And it falls from an airplane? What on earth could fall from an airplane that can burn astro turf?

      August 6, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  15. Wzrd1

    It's a variety of algae that is not uncommon to the region. They get it in Canada and even in Yellowstone.
    Even money the spores came in on rain and landed wherever water could collect. Streams, the ocean, puddles and buckets, then did what algae do, grow.
    Going off of memory, it's non-toxic. But, one can easily have it tested for toxins, just in case my memory is playing tricks on me.

    August 6, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
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