An unknown orange substance that washed ashore on a tiny Alaskan village last week has been identified as microscopic eggs filled with lipid oil droplets, according to a news release from NOAA scientists at the Juneau laboratory. The orange-tinted water was first spotted by residents in the village of Kivalina, an Inupiat Eskimo outpost on Alaska’s northwest coast, last Thursday when it appeared in the town’s harbor and was seen floating on top of buckets used to collect rainwater, following a downpour.
A town official told Discovery News that “the orange material turned gooey and gave off a gaseous odor. But scooped out of the ocean, the substance had no odor.”
Villagers were worried that the material might have been toxic after several small minnows died once the tide washed the orange substance away.
Although the eggs are natural, scientists have still not determined the species or whether the eggs were toxic. Officials are waiting on results from samples that were sent to a NOAA lab in South Carolina for further testing.
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