Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Mysterious Hurricane Irene Blobs Are Actually Potato Sponges
Mysterious Hurricane Irene Blobs Actually Potato Sponges
Hurricane Irene left a path of destruction up and down the East Coast, but that’s not all she left behind.
According to various media reports, the storm also left behind lots of mysterious, gray, smelly blobs in shallow waters from Virginia to New York. So what exactly ARE those things?
“They’re potato sponges,” says Emmett Duffy, professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
The institute has been flooded with calls about the Irene blobs, which have been described as being of “various sizes,” with the smallest “around the size of a baseball.”
Reports of their texture would seem to range from “kind of rubbery or leathery” to “kind of soft.”
Potato sponges are actually animals. These simple invertebrates usually remain far beneath the surface, tethered to the floor of the ocean. They can grow to the size of a soccer ball and inhabit shallow coastal habitats around the world.
It seems that particularly bad storms can churn up the ocean waters where potato sponges reside, producing a flood of dead or dying sponges, hence the foul odors.
This isn’t the first time the potato sponges have appeared in the Mid Atlantic region. Hundreds of them surfaced in Virginia after Tropical Storm Hanna in 2008.. <<<<pictures>>>>