When Hurricane Irene tore up the U.S. Eastern coastline it left with it a path of destruction and also a bunch of foul smelling little friends near the mouth of the Poquoson River which have been named “Irene Blobs.”
For a while nobody was sure what the squish gray blobs found in shallow waters from the beach of Virginia to New York actually were but now Emmett Duffy, a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science says they are potato sponges.
While the name of the substance sounds like some type of vegetation, potato sponges are actually simple invertebrates that typically remain anchored to the seafloor, out of sight. According to marine biologists they can grow to be the size of soccer balls and typically inhabit shallow coastal habitats around the world.
It appears that the churning of ocean waters simply dislodged the animals from their ocean floor habitat, killing many of the sponges and thus creating the foul smell they have come to be recognized by.
This newest potato sponge invasion isn’t the only one in recent memory, in 2008 Tropical Storm Hanna caused hundreds of the “Irene blobs” to wash ashore on the beaches surrounding Virginia.
So there you have it, the Irene blobs are nothing more than dead potato sponges, not some vast oil spill repercussion or a yet unknown environmental disaster as some sources had reported in the past.