I have a few pictures of erosion that happened along the coast North of Kotlik. This erosion for the most part happened during the storm happening on the 3rd of August. We were hit with high flood water and bad strong winds from the south and southwest. I heard that there was erosion up north but finally went out over the weekend. In the pictures you can see how much of the beachfront was affected, this hit hard from the mouth of Kotlik going up north past Pt. Romanoff. In one of the pictures, there is a strange-looking mold or something growing where the tundra eroded, it was kind of hard and looked like plastic but was brittle to the touch.
We have sent this observation to multiple experts from various agencies and organizations, including Alaska Department of Natural Resources, University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), US Department of Agriculture, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Red Mountain Consulting, as well as to some employees at Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. Gino Graziano, Invasive Plants Instructor at UAF Cooperative Extension Service (CES), responded with a couple interesting theories. Initially, he wrote:
This looks like a fungus to me. I bet when tundra is eroded like that a lot of organic matter is exposed giving fungus a great place to grow.
Through more dialogue, he came back with another thought:
The combination of erosion and the dry weather could lead to salt deposits on exposed soil surfaces.
Upon further investigation, he believes it to be fungus. Attached to this post is a photo that Gino sent of a soil surface exposed to salt. You can see that it has a different appearance than the growth found in Kotlik.
If residents of Kotlik would like the substance to be tested, Gino says that CES can assist with getting it to a lab for identification. Here is the UAF CES website where you can find information on all of the educational programs they provide and webpages for each of their offices throughout the state. Gino works in the Anchorage office, located in the Loussac Library.