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Mystery purple slime coats Norway fjord

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The slime has been described as "a plague" by local fishermen. Photo: Roger Larsen/ University in Tromsø.
14:12 CET+01:00
A mysterious purple slime has emerged off the coast of northern Norway, coating millions of cubic meters of a picturesque fjord with a strange mucoid, margarine-like substance.
“We have not been able to find out what this really is, other than that we are talking about large amounts of jellyfish,” Roger Larsen, associate professor at the University in Tromsø, told state news broadcaster NRK on Sunday.  
 
“The images we are picking up from the echo sounders and other equipment are totally atypical. We have tried to gather information to find the answers, but I am absolutely sure that this is something we've never seen before.” 
 
Larsen, who has been surveying the emergence of the slime since fishermen first began reporting it in late August, said that the substance had collected in a 200m wide belt around the Lyngen Fjord. 
 
“We are talking about millions of cubic metres,” he said.
 
On Monday, Tone Falkenhaug and Jan Helge Fosså, oceanographers at Norway's Institute of Marine Research (IMR) argued that the slime might have been caused by a gigantic bloom of cigar comb jellies which had then partially disintegrated. 
 
“It's probably dead or partially dead jellyfish, and we think its the kind of jellyfish we think it is is called Ctenophora  Beroe,” Falkenhaug told The Local. “We can't explain why it is like this, but it's not uncommon that jellyfish appear in very dense aggregations like this, especially deep in the fjord.” 
 

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She said that while she had herself never seen a bloom of jellyfish breaking down into a mucoid substance, the phenomenon had been documented elsewhere. 
 
“I have heard that you can get this when it's rotten, that you get this purple mucous from jellyfish. If you have dense blooms of jellyfish, and they fall down into the water column and they start to disintegrate." 
 

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