Scientists have closed the case on a giant, hairy blob of a sea creature that washed up on a beach in Oregon.
Local resident, Adoni Tegner, discovered the blob on the beach on October 12 near Florence, Oregon. He later told news outlets that it smelled of “decomposing mammal,” and said that it was covered in what appeared to be stringy white hairs.
“It just didn’t look anything like what I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It looked more stringy and it almost looked like it had been a large squid or something.”
According to experts, dead marine animals often wash up in states of decay, making them unrecognizable to most people. When large animals die out at sea, the gasses produced by the decomposition of their bodies make the carcass float. That carcass then washed up on shore.
When Tegner discovered the odd science experiment, he found the strange blob covered in stringy filaments. It made him wonder if it was a whale or some other sea creature.
“If it had been torn apart, it was really odd how the muscle structure broke down and almost made it look like it had some kind of tentacles on it,” he said.
Scientists later agreed that this misshapen being was likely the decomposed body of a dead whale.
“Based on the photos, I’d guess the blob is a decomposing baleen whale carcass,” Mark Clementz, a paleobiology professor at the University of Wyoming, told news outlets. “The hair-like structures could be baleen poking through or they could be the remnants of the muscle fibers that run along the throat and stomach.”
Scientists suspect hairy blob on Oregon beach was decomposing whale
According to experts, whales can often die of old age or disease. They can end up on shorelines due to strandings, where it gets stuck on the sand and can’t return to the water.
In addition, this phenomenon sometimes happens en masse, with tens of whales stranded on the same beach.
The strange filamentous hairs covering the blob were also thought to result from decaying tendons and collagen fibers. This created a furry texture across the whale’s body.
“It’s heavily decomposed which is why it looks like that, and different tissues will decompose at different rates. So tendons, collagen fibers, various proteins, will decompose at different rates, one of which I assume is the ‘white hair’ they are discussing (which clearly isn’t hair),” said Yannis P. Papastamatiou, an associate professor in predatory ecology at Florida International University.
Professor and fish biologist at Macquarie University in Australia, Culum Brown, theorized that the hair might be fat decomposing instead.
“The white ‘hair’ is mostly made of bacteria breaking down strings of blubber,” he said. “It must smell REALLY bad.”
Dead whales on beaches swiftly begin to stink as the bacteria decay the carcass. This produced gasses like cadaverine and putrescine.