rock snot

From Ned Deily on Facebook, a report of a Morning Call (Allentown PA and the Lehigh Valley) story on rock snot. Here’s yesterday’s headline:

Delaware River rock snot bloom approaches Easton

An outbreak of didymo, a single-cell algae, threatens ecosystem, nearby streams.

JD Malone’s story begins:

Erik Silldorff waded a dozen feet into the river, just off a rock bar in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. He plucked a stone from the chilly, clear water and pointed to a mass of brownish slime with tan tendrils.

“That’s a pretty snotty rock,” said Silldorff, a biologist for the Delaware River Basin Commission.

Didymo, a single-cell algae dubbed rock snot for its khaki color and its consistency, is in bloom in the Delaware from Hancock, N.Y., to the PPL power plant near Martins Creek in Lower Mount Bethel Township — about 90 miles of boogered rocks.

The vividly metaphorical compound rock snot is certainly notable, and it’s also phonologically satisfying, since its two parts are half rhymes: same vowel, offsets /k/ and /t/, which are phonetically very similar.

As for the nuisance diatom, here’s a brief description from Wikipedia:

Didymosphenia geminata, commonly known as didymo or rock snot, is a species of diatom that blooms in freshwater rivers and streams, with consistently cold water temperatures. In late Winter it can form large mats on the bottom of rivers and streams. It is not considered a significant human health risk, but it can affect stream habitats and sources of food for fish and make recreational activities unpleasant.

Didymo is found in cold water in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, and has recently (and regrettably) been introduced in New Zealand.


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