Not extraterrestrials after all: Orange goo in Alaska fungal spores

Aug 18, 2011

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Scientists say an orange-colored goo that streaked the shore of a remote Alaska village turned out to be fungal spores, not millions of microscopic eggs as indicated by preliminary analysis.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday that further tests show the substance is consistent with spores from fungi that create rust, which accounts for the color.

Scientists say they still have not determined whether this spore is among the 7,800 known species of rust fungi.

The gunk appeared Aug. 3 at the edge of Kivalina, an Inupiat Eskimo community at the tip of a barrier reef on Alaska's northwest coast.

The substance quickly dissipated, but residents have said they worry about the effect on the water quality, and some wildlife and plants.