Dead ocean insects blacken people’s feet on Wells Beach


From “Eeeww, this is so disgusting!” category …… People who have been to Wells Beach recently have come home with a little more than they did.

Imagine putting down your towel and starting your well-deserved day at the beach. The sun is shining, the waves roll gently and you have dirt on your feet. Not the rarest event. You’d probably think to yourself that it’s just going to come out in the shower when you get home.

Well, let’s say it doesn’t go off in the shower. Let’s also say that no matter how hard you scrub or how many times you wash them, the cranky black stuff still won’t come off. You might start to worry a bit and wonder what new hell you’ve entered at the beach. Unless you are an oceanographer. Then you search for answers.

John Lillibridge and his wife Linda Stathoplos are both retired oceanographers, according to WABI. They had heard about what was going on in Wells Beach and decided to check it out for themselves. They expected to find spilled oil, or algae, or something like that.

You can imagine their surprise when they put samples under a microscope and discovered that the substance was actually tiny dead marine insects washing up on the beach. People basically walked through them, as it looked like a dark spot in the sand, crushed them and stained their feet with the old bug dinner.

I was not allowed to use a photo of the actual discoloration of the feet, but if you click on the WABI link you can see a photo of someone’s feet even after spending a lot of time trying to clean them up. It’s downright nasty. But that will eventually go away.

John Lillibridge summed it up this way:

It’s just a discoloration. It is a natural substance in the body of these insects. It probably comes from certain plants, ”he said. “The wind is turning south more west today, and I suspect between that and the natural tidal cycle, it’s just going to blow this stuff away.”

So at least it looks like it’s temporary. But still … having a bunch of dead bugs staining your feet pretty much black, and you can’t clean them up, sounds like a Disney-quality horror movie to me. No one is hurt, but it’s still a bit disgusting.

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