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Kim Whitmyre
07-29-2006, 09:05 AM
A Primeval Tide of Toxins

Runoff from modern life is feeding an explosion of primitive organisms. This 'rise of slime,' as one scientist calls it, is killing larger species and sickening people.
By Kenneth R. Weiss, Times Staff Writer
July 30, 2006

Moreton Bay, Australia -- The fireweed began each spring as tufts of hairy growth and spread across the seafloor fast enough to cover a football field in an hour.

When fishermen touched it, their skin broke out in searing welts. Their lips blistered and peeled. Their eyes burned and swelled shut. Water that splashed from their nets spread the inflammation to their legs and torsos.

"It comes up like little boils," said Randolph Van Dyk, a fisherman whose powerful legs are pocked with scars. "At nighttime, you can feel them burning. I tried everything to get rid of them. Nothing worked."

As the weed blanketed miles of the bay over the last decade, it stained fishing nets a dark purple and left them coated with a powdery residue. When fishermen tried to shake it off the webbing, their throats constricted and they gasped for air.

After one man bit a fishing line in two, his mouth and tongue swelled so badly that he couldn't eat solid food for a week. Others made an even more painful mistake, neglecting to wash the residue from their hands before relieving themselves over the sides of their boats.

For a time, embarrassment kept them from talking publicly about their condition. When they finally did speak up, authorities dismissed their complaints until a bucket of the hairy weed made it to the University of Queensland's marine botany lab.

Samples placed in a drying oven gave off fumes so strong that professors and students ran out of the building and into the street, choking and coughing.

(Part 1 of a series)

Toxic Slime (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/oceans/la-me-ocean30jul30,0,952130.story)

pcford
07-29-2006, 12:15 PM
Oh, I thought this was a thread about our President.

LeeG
07-29-2006, 03:53 PM
sounds like a good way to start a mass extinction event

Meerkat
07-29-2006, 03:55 PM
That would be the methane ices melting. :eek:

RichKrough
07-29-2006, 04:31 PM
I thought Toxic Slime was a Portland SKA band.

PeterSibley
07-29-2006, 05:11 PM
It's another little gift from ship's pumpout ballast water , here one week ,in the Gulf of Mexico next week .