Some people are leaving with an unwanted souvenir after visiting some beaches in southern Maine: a black substance stained on the bottom of their feet.
The substance, which has been seen at beaches in York County, was initially thought to be algae, but once a retired oceanographer looked at a sample through a microscope, they discovered it was something much different.
“Much to our surprise, it wasn’t some kind of algae or an oil spill like you would expect, it was just a whole bunch of dead bugs in the water,” said John Lillibridge, who recently retired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The bugs have wings that are smaller than a pinpoint, but when a lot of them are stepped on, they leave a dark stain that is hard to remove.
“I tried Tide To-Go, I figured it would be bleach but nothing worked,” said beachgoer Anne King, who also tried using oils and soap scrubs to no avail.
Lillibridge said the bugs are not harmful and eventually wear off, although it is unclear what type of bugs they are. He also believes they will eventually disappear.
“The wind is turning from the south more to the west today and I suspect between now and natural tide cycle it’s just going to carry this stuff away,” Lillibridge said.