Strange 'slime' at UK nature reserve baffles experts


Scientists at a nature reserve in Somerset have been left baffled by a jelly-like slime that has appeared at a number of spots at the site.

The jelly has been found on grass banks away from the water's edge at the RSPB's Ham Wall Nature Reserve in Somerset.

Spokesman Tony Whitehead has said similar substances have been recorded in historical records, but experts are still unsure as to exactly what it is.

One suggestion is that it is a form of cyanobacteria called Nostoc. Others suggest it is the remains of the regurgitated innards of amphibians like frogs and toads, and of their spawn.

And according to folklore, a similar slime known as 'astral jelly' is deposited after meteor showers.

As the jelly has turned up at the park just three days after a giant meteor streaked over the city of Chelyabinsk in central Russia, it has led some to suggest the two are linked, according to the Mirror.

Mr Whitehead told the BBC: "In records dating back to the 14th Century it's known variously as star jelly, astral jelly or astromyxin. In folklore it is said to be deposited in the wake of meteor showers."

He added: "It's great that in this day and age that there are still mysteries out there. We've read a few articles now and much speculation.

"One suggested it was neither animal nor plant, and another that it didn't contain DNA, although it does give the appearance of something 'living'.

"Our reserve team will be looking out for the slime over the next few days, but if anyone can offer any explanations we'd be glad to hear."

According to the Daily Telegraph, Steve Hughes, the RSPB site manager at Ham Wall, said: "This past week we've been finding piles of this translucent jelly dotted around the reserve. Always on grass banks away from the water's edge.

"They are usually about 10cm (4in) in diameter. We've asked experts what it might be, but as yet no one is really sure.

"Whatever it is, it's very weird."

The public are being warned not to touch the slime, and to inform staff if any is spotted.

The Ham Wall nature reserve is a newy created wetland and a haven for birdwatchers. In spring, the reedbeds are alive with birdsong, in autumn you can see kingfishers flashing up and down the ditches, and bitterns are seen regularly all year round. It is also home to many rare species, including water voles and otters.

What do you think the Ham Wall wildlife park slime might be? Leave a comment below.

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