LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (AP) — It smells like rotten eggs at best, decomposing flesh at worst. It looks like the pods from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”
To the people whose homes back up onto a Tuckerton Creek tributary where the gelatinous substance recently appeared, it’s just “The Blob.”
“It’s frightening,” said Eileen Masterson. “We can’t swim because the odor is so horrible and we won’t crab here because we don’t know whether it’s safe.”
The substance, which was noticed about two weeks ago, consists of jelly-like bulbs that undulate with the waves just below the surface.
By most accounts, it generally stays submerged in about 8 feet of water in the lagoon. At low tide, some of it pokes through the surface of the water, looking like marbled rocks.
But no one’s sure what it is.
The state Department of Environmental Protection poked at the blob and took samples as part of a half-dozen field tests Tuesday before deciding it’s not hazardous.
“We’ve determined that it’s not toxic. It’s mostly like some algae or fungus,” said DEP spokesman Jack Kaskey. “It may be an algae growth that lived on the bottom of the lagoon and after its life cycle ended, gases brought it up to the surface.”
Robert Ingenito, environmental health coordinator for the Ocean County Health Department, said he hadn’t seen anything like it in 30 years of public health work.
“In the dead-end lagoons, you normally see vegetative material that rots, fish kills or dissolved oxygen problems, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “It’s strange.”