Patterson solves mystery of "gray blobs"

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     The interior of a potato sponge that was dislodged from the floor of Chesapeake Bay by Hurricane Irene.  Photo by Michael Moore.
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     A single dislodged potato sponge floats near the mouth of the York River following Hurricane Irene.  Photo by Cathy Hopkins.
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     Three dislodged potato sponges in Mobjack Bay following Hurricane Irene. Local residents have reported groups of up to 30 of these sponges floating atop local waters.  Photo by Michael Moore.
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     A potato sponge found washed up on a local beach following Hurricane Irene.  Photo by Hilary Foster.
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     A dislodged potato sponge recovered from Mobjack Bay following Hurricane Irene.  Photo by Michael Moore.
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     Three dislodged potato sponges recovered from atop the waters of Hampton Roads following Hurricane Irene.   Photo by Captain Tyler W. Moore.
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VIMS professor Mark Patterson was interviewed this week by WAVY TV reporter Stephanie Harris concerning the mysterious gray blobs that have been washing up on local beaches following Hurricane Irene.

Weekend reports by local media suggested that blobs washing up on Ocean View Beach might have been human waste released from a passing vessel. Patterson examined blobs collected by a local woman from the beach and confirmed an earlier VIMS report that the objects are not human waste but rather decaying potato sponges that were most likely dislodged from the bayfloor by the high waves associated with Hurricane Irene.

VIMS has received numerous reports of these blobs since Irene passed over the Chesapeake Bay region on the weekend of August 27-28.

Mystery surrounding beach clumps solved: