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American blob debunked


LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - Call off the National Enquirer. Stop planning "The Blob" tours. Scientists announced Wednesday the Flying Saucer-like phenom here is just ... an overgrown plant.

The "Scooby (Doo)" mystery in the lagoon has been solved, officials reported Thursday.

"It's just algae," Department of Environmental Protection officer Robert J. Schrader said. "I don't know what kind. There are thousands of types. But that's what it is."

Just like that, the town's hopes of becoming the next Roswell or Loch Ness vanished.

"Right now, The Blob is our number one tourist attraction. It could have been a boon," Mayor Brian Rumpf lamented.

"We could have put hotels up for tourists. The Blob would have been great for the new Hotel Occupancy Tax." With a sigh, he added, "Unfortunately, that won't continue now."

Locals discovered the mysterious Toyota Civic-size balloon of muck in July, and soon affectionately nicknamed it "The Blob." Local Robert Masterson pondered over it for roughly two weeks, then stopped swimming and crabbing over the area it inhabits in his backyard lagoon.

Also, The Blob was growing, concluded nearby resident Peggy Luken.

When the she first eyed its spoiled omellette-like hue, the monster measured only 3-by-4 feet. Over two weeks, The Blob, in true Jamie Lee Curtis horror-flick tradition, inflated to a scarier and scarier size.

Luken alerted local Rutgers University researchers and the Coast Guard. Could The Blob emerge to land? "I was kind of worried about it," Luken said at the time.

Finally, the DEP arrived. Tuesday, Schrader, aptly part of an Emergency Response Unit, rowed out to greet The Blob. Arcane tests were performed and samples taken. He brought them to the lab. Scientists in stereotypically pristine lab coats observed, and concluded: Algae.

It's a let-down, townspeople and officials said. A real Blob could spark the town's economy, like in Scotland's Loch Ness, New Mexico's Roswell, or Cawker City, Kan., home to the World's Largest Ball of Twine.

Who wants to see just algae? The Great American Marketing Machine doesn't move for that. No more dreams of lagoon tours, Cupie dolls, Blob-themed hamburger joints, or a Fox television movie, "The Blob eats Little Egg Harbor."

Thursday, Masterman told of budding plans to charge $100 for rowboat tours of The Blob's abode. "I'm heartbroken," he said. "My wife was going to set up a refreshment stand and sell hotdogs and coffee.

"Our home was going to be a bed-and-breakfast. We were going to hold overnighters and 'Blob Glob' breakfasts." Alas, The Blob is no more. Someone call Mike Wallace and Geraldo. The party is over before it started.


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