Beachgoers in York County, US have been facing a strange problem as a mysterious black substance is staining the bottom of their feet. The black substance, found in some beaches in southern Maine and New Hampshire, was initially believed to be algae but upon studying, it turned out to be something entirely different. As it turns out, the staining was the result of millions of insect carcasses that washed up on the shore, as per experts.
The insect in question is tiny black kelp flies that are behind hundreds of complaints to officials and on social media about people’s feet turning black after visiting local beaches, with most of them struggling to remove it. Jim Britt, a spokesperson for Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservations and Forestry told the New York Times that millions of dead kelp flies have turned up on a stretch of beach in southern Main. He added that he didn’t know the reason behind it and stated that nature does crazy stuff so it might be one of those.
Joseph Kelley, a marine geologist at the University of Maine told the media outlet in an email that in his 40 years of career, he had never seen something like that. As per a report by Daily Mail, researchers claim that confirmed that the carcasses are not harmful to humans, however, their impact on dogs is still being investigated.
Steve Dickson, a marine geologist with Maine Geological Survey, told the Portland Press Herald these flies eat plants that have natural pigment, which gets transferred to a person’s skin when they come in contact with the flies. He added that these bugs float in the ocean and with waves wash ashore and settle on beach until the tide goes back. Dickson is studying further to find out the bugs’ origin and the reason why millions of them washed up on shore.
Dickson received the pictures of the mysterious substance from Department of Environmental Protection, who had received it from a local named Ed Smith. Intrigued, Dickson contacted Linda Stathopolos and John Lilibridge, retired oceanographers, who went down to the beach to take samples. Lilibridge studied the sample under a microscope and confirmed that they were little bugs.