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Someone knows what this is? (Biology)

  1. May 25, 2014 #1
    While this isn't really homework, I came across something rather odd when I was taking a walk yesterday, interesting enough to get me online to seek knowledge of what I found. I live in southern Norway, and took a walk along the coastline on some rocks, right by the sea, when I came across this:

    (Embedding the image didn't work very well, so I'll link it instead)
    https://i.imgur.com/v1pAp0p.jpg

    This is basically a puddle, about 10-15 cm in diameter, located on some rocks a few meters above sea level. It is maybe 10-20 meters away from the sea, and is covered with some strange gelatin-like substance. My question is, does anyone know what this substance is?

    I touched the surface with the straw in the picture, and the slime sort of stuck to the straw. I stirred it slightly, and felt that the entire puddle was rather jelly-ish. There were no other puddles around with the strange substance in it, despite there being quite a lot of puddles. I have never seen anything similar in my life, and my parents and friends can't seem to figure out what this is, either.

    I asked around on Reddit first in hope of getting somewhere to start. Suggestions range from decomposing jellyfish to algae, and while there are transparent jellyfish around, I still don't know how it could have been there long enough to decompose, seeing as the first jellyfish of the season started appearing just recently. So I wonder, do any of you know what I am looking at? This really interests me and I would love to find out what it is. Even if you can't answer yourself, I'd be very happy if you could direct me to somewhere else I can ask and hope to get an answer.

    If you need a more exact location, this is the best I can give you: http://kart.gulesider.no/m/VQNmM
    It's not spot on, but approximately around where I found the puddle.

    Also, if this is the wrong place to post, I am deeply sorry. I am new to these forums, and if you miss any information, if I posted this in the wrong place or if I shouldn't have posted it on this site at all, I apologize - tell me and I'll see what I can do. Thank you for considering this post, and I'll hope someone will be able to answer me!

    Regards,
    - bilde2910
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2014 #2

    Borek

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    I can't see the image.
     
  4. May 25, 2014 #3
    That's odd. Firewall, maybe? The image is too large to upload here, see if Dropbox works for you: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/59472739/other_files/photos/WP_20140524_14_41_22_Pro__highres.jpg [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  5. May 25, 2014 #4
    Well, to my understanding it looks like a tree sap.
     
  6. May 25, 2014 #5
    There are no trees nearby, though. If you click on my map link, you'll see it's on plain rock. The trees that are there are too far away for the sap to have reached the puddle, and then it would probably also have reached other puddles, which it didn't.
     
  7. May 25, 2014 #6

    Borek

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    attachment.php?attachmentid=70046&stc=1&d=1401053487.jpg
     

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  8. May 25, 2014 #7
    Ah, thank you, Borek! When I tried, the picture filled an area 16 times the size of my screen. Maybe I just did it wrong.
     
  9. May 25, 2014 #8

    Borek

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    The one I posted was rescaled.

    I have seen similar slimy things on the rocks above water level, but I have no idea what they are. I always assumed it is somehow related to animals/plants living in the sea.
     
  10. May 25, 2014 #9
    I see. I also assumed the same, given that it was so close to the sea. It will be interesting to see which suggestions I get.
     
  11. May 25, 2014 #10

    Borek

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    Any smell?
     
  12. May 25, 2014 #11

    AlephZero

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    I would have guessed the remains of a jellyfish. I guess it must have been thrown onto the rocks by a storm. It may have been dead in the sea for a while before it got thrown onto the rock, hence no tentacles etc.
     
  13. May 26, 2014 #12
    Unfortunately, smelling what it was wasn't the first thing that crossed my mind when I saw it. If I ever come across that puddle again, I'll check out.

    That's what I think, too, based on what I've heard so far. There are transparent jellyfish around, the problems are that the first jellyfish only started appearing very recently, and that if it was a storm, it must have been laying there for a while, because we haven't had any storms recently.
     
  14. May 26, 2014 #13

    Borek

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    I wonder if - because of the gelatinous consistency - content of the puddle can't survive months, before it is not washed out by rains, storms, and/or decomposed by light/UV. That could mean it was there since the last year.
     
  15. May 26, 2014 #14
    I'm not sure how long it has been there, but I guess the water would vaporize sooner or later. There's a lot of sunny weather now, warming the rocks and making water vaporize quicker. When I was there yesterday, I almost got sunburnt, so I guess there's a lot of UV out there. Could it really have been there since last year?
     
  16. May 26, 2014 #15

    Borek

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    Just because water evaporates doesn't mean the substance that makes it gelatinous goes away! Think about gelatin as used for jelly preparation - even if the jelly dries out, adding water will make it slimy and gelatinous again (not that I would plan on eating it :wink:).
     
  17. May 26, 2014 #16
    Interesting, I didn't know that! So, if it indeed has been laying there for a while, could it actually be a decomposed jellyfish? It doesn't look like a jellyfish in any way whatsoever except for the gelatinousness, but again, it might have been there for a while.
     
  18. May 26, 2014 #17

    adjacent

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    Were there any jelly below the surface of the water?
     
  19. May 26, 2014 #18
    Hard to tell, actually. The whole puddle felt like a mixture of the substance and water, maybe a little more concentrated at the surface.
     
  20. May 26, 2014 #19
    I don't live near the sea, so can't comment on the jellyfish solution. It seems you think it is natural, rather than man made. My first thought was: maybe it IS slime - a slime mold which is a fascinating community, or possibly some bacterial commune. Of course, there are a variety of bodily fluids which might temporarily look that way... If you didn't sample it, and if its no longer there, I guess it will remain a mystery... I also don't follow your logic in claiming that it couldn't be a jelly, since they only recently appeared..do you think they don't exist before they begin to wash up? There are thousands of species, some surely exist off your coast year-long...but I didn't realize they would look like that when decomposing...oh well. Freeze-thaw can concentrate materials in certain circumstances, also.
     
  21. May 26, 2014 #20
    I'm not really an expert in biology, so I cannot be completely sure about this. The reason I think it's not man made is that I don't see why someone would dump a gelatinous substance in a small pit only for somebody to find it and wonder what it is. I strongly doubt it is a body fluid, in case I don't know which one it would be... there are only a few people out there normally, and it would be strange for people to drop off body fluids in this way...

    As for the jellyfish... the water is cold, and the last few days here have been the first days of the year with air temperatures over 20 °C. Sea temperatures are still around 10-14 °C. In the winter, I haven't seen any jellyfish ever, probably because the seawater is around 0 °C, which to me sounds too low for any kind of jellyfish to live in. In addition, we've had a fairly late spring with cool temperatures. Of course, I may be wrong, as I am pretty much a beginner here. I can't recall having seen more than three species of jellyfish near the coastline areas, close enough that we can see them on the beach - I don't know exactly what they're called, one of them is Cyanea capillata for sure, the other is probably Aurelia aurita, and the third looks like the aurita too, but has a slight blue tint.

    I don't know how long time it takes for jellyfish to decompose, but if that's the case, it definitely seems like it has come a lot longer in the process than the images I could find on Google. I don't even know if it's actually a decomposing jellyfish, or something different altogether. For me, it's just speculation this far.
     
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