KIVALINA-Scientists have re-identified the orange gooey substance that found it way to the shores and rain-buckets in Kivalina on August 3rd of this year.
Preliminary reports from NOAA labs identified the orange substance to be some form of eggs from possibly an algae bloom. But, after further investigation, it is discovered that it is in fact a type of fungal spore from a rust fungus. Being a rust fungus accounts for the color of the substance. Rusts are generally a plant blight or disease.
On August third, villagers woke to find a film of the substance floating on the waters of their harbor. After a rainfall, the substance was also found in their buckets kept out for collecting rain-water. It soon dissipated, but not before a sample could be taken to a lab in Anchorage for further study.
This particular fungus has yet to be identified. Further testing is going to be necessary to pin down the exact fungus the spores were released from. At this time, without that further testing, it cannot be determined if the spores are toxic or if it would have any effects long-lasting or not to the community. Many spores of this type can cause allergic reactions, asthma, or other respiratory ailments.
Some villagers reported dead minnows in the lagoon in Kivalina. Whether there is a connection between that incident and the appearance of the spores is unanswered at this time.
Steven Morton, a scientist at the NOAA lab says that the type of rust fungus spore is unknown at this time and more information is needed to close in on the identity. He says that even though toxicity of spores is beyond his area of expertise, he said he “would definitely filter these spores out” of water sources.
Fungal spores usually distribute themselves through the air. This would explain the disbursement having been seen as far away as Buckland. That community is 150 miles to the southeast of Kivalina.
Kivalina Councilwoman Frances Douglas, not reassured by the findings released yesterday, had this to say, “The fact that they have not completely ID’d this thing still leaves more questions in my mind. I’m not comfortable with this thing.”