Better Hide The Kids…Hide The Wife…A Toxic Blob Is Adrift

via Toxic blob drifting in Gulf mystifies scientists |

Just off the Florida Panhandle coastline, within site of Perdido Key, an underwater mass of dead sea life that appears to be growing as microscopic algae and bacteria get trapped and die has been found by scientists. Early samples indicate the glob is at least 3 feet thick and spans two-thirds of a mile parallel to the coast. No one knows where it came from or where it will go.Scientists are trying to determine if oil from last year’s Deepwater Horizon disaster led to the glob. But tests so far have found no sign of oil. “It seems to be a combination of algae and bacteria,” said David Hollander, a chemical oceanographer with the University of South Florida, describing the substance as “extraordinarily sticky” and toxic. While scientists have drawn no conclusions about the gooey mat’s origin, they are not ruling out a potential connection to the oil spill. Oil gummed and slicked that part of the Gulf for 30 to 40 days during the three-month well gusher, which pumped 186 million to 227 million gallons of crude into the Gulf.

Time to hide the kids…hide the wife

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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3 comments on “Better Hide The Kids…Hide The Wife…A Toxic Blob Is Adrift
  1. Over the last two days we have had an unusual “Orange Blob” floating on the Gulf surface just offshore in Miramar Beach, Florida. The streak covers at least a mile or two East to West and was sitting just outside of the second sandbar. It smells disgusting and is very buoyant -not mixing with the water. The only obvious sign of marine life in it is bird feathers which have been washing up in larger numbers than usual this weekend. My sample, refrigerated overnight has finally sunk into several layers and retains it’s orange color. We split off a sample for Coast Guard and NOAA. They are uncertain what it is and testing the samples as well. The sample did not fluoresce under UV lighting. We still have tarballs washing up most days and, of course, oil buried under the sand on the beach.

  2. Thanks for the update BlueMountainSurfer! Glad people like you are on the ground down there keeping tabs on the situation. Let us know what the results are, if they find anything.

  3. Took another sample and before refrigeration this time looked under a microscope, it looks to be a single cell red algae. NOAA reports are now calling it this as well. On the same beaches today we had many fish and jellies washing ashore. The jellies are reported to have a similar orange substance inside them.
    On a more disheartening note, we UV spotted beaches between Panama City Florida and Ft. Morgan AL. The beach in Pensacola was covered in dispersed oil on the surface and trenching to 24 inches showed layers of the same below the surface. They have done an excellent job of churning it up to be invisible to the naked eye… but it’s still there, now in tiny bite sized morsels.
    If anyone else is holding samples from the DWH event, be sure to look at them under high power UV 365NM light. If it contains “weathered and dispersed oil” you will see a bright orange glow. No Corexit and no weathering = no glow.

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