What Is This? Mysterious Substance Discovered On Duluth’s Minnesota Point Beach
While spending some time on Duluth's Minnesota Point earlier this week, Becca Talbert discovered something quite interesting.
The discovery? In the sand on the beach was a glistening teal substance covering an area that looked like it was maybe a few feet in size. Becca says initially thought it might be some kind of material used to put out a fire, but remained unsure about what it could be.
Reddit user EngelburtHumperdink similarly saw the substance, sharing it to the Reddit community "Whatisthisthing", looking to identify just what the heck it could be.
In the Reddit user's description and photos, they explain it looks like glass, but it has the consistency of a gel or something like Jello. You can see in the second and third photos in the post (below) close-up images of the substance. Just tap the arrow on the right side of the image to page through the pictures.
The folks on Reddit and on Facebook, where Becca shared her photo, included a lot of guesses.
Some people proposed that it could be a deadly type of algae or the gel material from inside a ruptured ice pack.
Becca shared the image and some information with the Minnesota DNR, who said that they sent the photo and information to the DNR's aquatic plant specialists to see if they could help in identifying the substance. Becca has not yet received any additional updates from the Minnesota DNR.
Another theory on what the substance is
In the meantime, the folks on Reddit have declared the mystery closed. They seem to believe it is sodium polyacrylate. This is an absorbent material that is used in a variety of products, including inside baby diapers.
The material starts off as more of a solid, crystal-like material, turning to gel when exposed to moisture that it absorbs. The material is clear/white in color, but one of the Redditors commenting on it say could be sodium polyacrylate that also contains " a metric butt-load of green coloring", which would explain the color.
The theory is that a baby was in the water in a diaper that contained a heavily-dyed amount of sodium polyacrylate, and the diaper ruptured.
To me, that looks like a lot of gel for one diaper, but I could be wrong. I know the material changes once it get wet, but that looks like it would be way more than what you'd find packed into just one diaper.
We're still waiting to hear back on what the DNR says about it, but the Reddit theory is plausible - even with my question about the volume of what was left behind. I also wonder if they add dye to this compound in diapers. I guess I've never cut one open to find out.
If that's what it is, is it harmful?
The compound is not considered toxic when exposed to skin, but ingestion by an animal like a dog could cause gastrointestinal irritation or other issues.