ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it’s solved the mystery of an unknown substance that washed up in the coastal village of Kivalina last week. The verdict: it’s microscopic eggs.
A lead scientist at NOAA’s Juneau laboratory in Auke Bay, Jeep Rice, says biologists and chemists’ first task was to determine whether a sample of the orange substance received Saturday was “animal, vegetable, or mineral.”
The question didn’t take long for scientists to solve once they examined the matter under a high-powered microscope, determining it was composed of microscopic invertebrate eggs from an unidentified species of 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," Rice said. "So this is natural. It is not chemical pollution; it is not a man-made substance."
Although the eggs are natural, questions remain about whether they’re toxic and samples have been sent to a NOAA lab on the East Coast for further testing.
Samples of the substance were routed to the Auke Bay lab by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s lab in Anchorage.