The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Well, test results are in – and the verdict on the gooey mystery glob seen floating in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska’s northern shore is: algae.

Ed Meggert of the Department of Environmental Conservation in Fairbanks said results returned on Thursday showed it’s marine algae – a stringy batch of algae.

Miles of the thick, dark gunk had been spotted floating between Barrow and Wainwright, prompting North Slope Borough officials and the U.S. Coast Guard to investigate.

A sample was sent to an Environmental Conservation lab in Palmer.

The announcement still leaves unanswered questions, such as why is there so much of it in a place where people say they can’t recall anything quite like it?

Local hunters and whalers are puzzled. The Coast Guard labeled the substance biological, but knew little else. A borough official said the stuff had hairy strands in it and was tangled with jellyfish.

Terry Whitledge, director of the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said he hasn’t had a chance to look at a sample yet, but a friend with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration e-mailed him a picture. He, too, thinks it’s algae, though he said he doesn’t know why an unprecedented bloom appeared off the Arctic coast.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Terry Hasenauer said the North Slope Borough took samples of the stuff for a separate round of testing.

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