HERMISTON: Imagine walking outside your house one morning and noticing random slime bubbles all over your yard. You have no idea what they are, if you can touch them, where they came from or if they're safe for your kids or animals to be around.
One Hermiston resident had this exact experience last Sunday morning after Hermiston had just received an extended period of rainfall.
"I had this one here, it was rather large," said Sean Zinkel. "It just kinda oozed out and we covered it up and didn't think anything of it, but then the next day..."
The next day Sean noticed not just one, but multiple slime bubbles. The slime was in his grass, on his driveway and on his front porch.
"I've lived here for almost forty years and I've never seen random slime bubbles appear in a yard," said Sean.
These mysterious ooey and gooey slime balls led Sean to crowd source Facebook, asking if anyone else had seen them. Sure enough, other Hermiston residents had them in their yards too. Some of the comments were out of the ordinary, suggesting that it may be from an alien; others wanted to know what it really was.
"A bunch of people said to collect some samples and take it out to the experiment station," said Sean.
Sean took a sample of the slime to Oregon State University's Agricultural and Research Center to test this mysterious matter. Horticulturist, Professors and Plant Pathologists each closely looked at the slime and were stunned. They each had no distinct idea on what it might be.
"My first thoughts were that i didn't know what it was, and it's probably not anything that I'm am expert in," said Kenneth Frost, Plant Pathologist.
Kenneth Frost looked at the slime under a microscope to see if it might be a living organism.
"With a living organism I would expect to see some sort of structure, but this doesn't seem to have that," said Frost.
If it's not living, then that rules out a fungus. Frost says he has other theories, but is really at a loss as to what exactly it is. Another expert, horticulture professor Scott Lukas, says it could just be gel due to water retention polymers commonly found in potting soil, or baby diapers. Lukas says after rain, sometimes water causes the polymers in the soil to gel up.
But- if the polymers are typically in soil, then that doesn't explain why the slime is on the concrete driveway or the porch. Another theory is that the slime could have come from slugs or frog spawn. But- Sean says with him and his kids constantly playing outside in the yard, he's never once seen a slug outside his home.
And as for the frog spawn solution.... frogs typically spawn near water. Though the slime mystery remains for now one thing is for sure, it's probably not alien slime.
The next from here is to send it over to the Oregon State University campus to see if any other experts can come up with a distinct cause of the slime.