Star Jelly by Ullswater

Star Jelly Hits the Lake District

Star Jelly Above Ullswater Photo © Rob Shephard
Alien Star Jelly Above Ullswater

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST! Now all over the press – We broke the story on the Alien Goo and Patterdale Blob. Please click here to see the latest news and how you can solve the star jelly mystery.

It all started with my daily visit to the great Patterdale Village Store. Tom and Gillian had been out on the fells looking for stags (we’re deep into rutting season – but more on that another  day). Up near Angle Tarn they had come across some glutinous jelly on the path. Whilst up on the fells, they had met Helen and Richard, from Hartsop Cottages, and Helen had done some research on the web and found out that it was called “star jelly”. According to good old wikipedia it is a “gelatinous substance, which, according to folklore, is deposited on the earth during meteor showers“. Blimey I thought – meteor showers over Ullswater, astral deposits, this has to be worth a look.

So that evening Morgan and I set off up to Boredale Hause to find some Stags and some star jelly. Obviously being mid October we set off in a downpour and as we got higher the wind got ever more entertaining. As we neared Boredale we veered off up the “short cut” path and sure enough there floating on a puddle was some “caca de luna” (Tom and I agree the Mexicans have the best name for it…).

Alien Star Jelly on Place Fell  Photo © Rob Shephard

I have to admit my “samples” were fairly meagre compared to the ones seen near Angle Tarn, which were apparently as big as your foot, but they were still intriguing.

By all account this phenomenon had been found on the hills of Scotland back in 2009, and the BBC had done some investigations, but no conclusive answers had been found (BBC Archive). Again according to wikipedia “explanations have ranged from the material being the remains of frogs and toads, or of worms, to the byproducts of cyanobacteria, to paranormal origins“. My first thought was that it could be connected to rutting stags. I’ll let you join the dots as it were but you get the picture. However Tom pointed out that the size of deposits up near Angle Tarn would put an elephant to shame, so maybe not….

Following that logic one assumes that unless we have a plague of giant mutant frogs in the Lake District then the same is true of that theory. Personally I like the idea of meteor showers and astral deposits. Who knows. If you do then let me know!

UPDATES

Monday 24th October – 10:00

We seem to have generated some interest from the story. Full details to follow but “The Patterdale Blob” made it into the hallowed pages of The Sun, The Mirror, The Daily Express and the Daily Record at the weekend, with even a brief mention in the Daily Telegraph. More importantly Tom collected a sample on Friday and posted it to an expert at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh who will hopefully be able to analyse it and give us the answer as to its origins. Watch this space!

Monday 24th October – 12:00

Dr Sluiman has confirmed he has received the sample and will be examining it today. Tom did an interview with BBC Radio Cumbria as well – so stay tuned for an update 07:20 tomorrow morning!

Tuesday 25th October – 10:30

Well we’ve had our moment of fame on BBC Radio Cumbria. Tom gave a good account of himself with some eloquent phrasing and I proved once again why I have the perfect face for radio…

Anyway here it is.

BBC Radio Cumbria Patterdale Blob Discussion 25th Oct 2011

Tuesday 25th October – 11:04

OK now it’s getting serious. Tom and I are meeting the BBCs Look North team soon. Now what was that I said about my face and radio….

Come on Dr Sluiman it’s time you found out what this stuff is!

Tuesday 25th October – 14:04

Well we’ve now finished with the very nice man from BBC Look North so we’ll see whether we make it onto the 18:30 slot tonight or get shunted off by a dog that rides a unicycle. Hopefully they’ll realise my face is made for radio and edit me out and all being well you’ll see some good shots of Tom getting down and dirty in a puddle…

Tuesday 25th October – 14:50

This one’s a bit of a shocker – just got a call from Radio New Zealand who want to do a piece on it as well. Good on them. Probably the second most beautiful part of the world after the Lake District!

Wednesday 26th October – 10:21

Well the story hit BBC’s Look North last night.

. Still no word from the Professor in Edinburgh….

Wednesday 26th October – 13:45

Finally some feedback on the star jelly sample from Dr Sluiman.

“I only had time on Monday to have a first look at the sample, and I
plan to go back to the microscope later today. My initial findings are
that there is evidence that these samples came from some animal (so
they don’t have an extra-terrestrial alien origin – sorry!). As a
botanist I can confidently rule out algae, and it isn’t a fungus
either. Ideally I need a zoologist (or a veterinary scientist perhaps)
to confirm that the sample that you collected is indeed from some
animal (stag???).”

So it looks like a) the aliens are not to blame but b)he needs some help coming up with a definitive answer. So get in touch with him if you can help solve the mystery!

Thursday 27th October – 09:33

New sightings reported today near Huddersfield. Hopefully may provide some more answers! More on this story here.

Monday 31st October 09:45

Well still no definitve answer. Had an email over the weekend from a lady who’d spotted it in the Duddon Valley a few years ago out of rutting season, and a comment from one of the locals (see below) who has seen it before in the Patterdale area Hoping to get more news from Dr Sluiman this week…

About the Author

Rob Shephard lives and works in the Lake District. As well as an occasional blogger and frequent dog walker of Morgan, he is a director of Lovetoescape.com, a holiday accommodation owner, as well as the owner of Helvellyn Cottages in Glenridding and a Cottage in Patterdale – ideal if you want to come up and look for the Patterdale Blob!

Other Stuff

A wobbly video taken that evening. Hopefully the soundtrack will give you an idea of the wind – as will the forlorn expression on Morgan’s face…

As for the stags, we saw a few at a distance, but will be heading up again in the coming days for a closer look….

There are three deer in this picture

There are three deer in this picture - trust me!

Stag above Ullswater

And that's another one on the brow of the hill!

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25 Responses to Star Jelly by Ullswater

  1. Pingback: Patterdale Blob Cartoons | Helvellyn's Blog

  2. Marian Parsons says:

    Yes, it’s strange stuff and I’ve been noticing and photographing it for years, but the last time it was analysed it was found ‘not to have a cellular structure’ so the mystery deepens. Apparently the stuff has been written about in plays and poetry for hundreds of years. I think it’s a jelly mould (but not much use for kid’s parties!)
    Can’t wait for up-to-date analysis.

    • helvellyn says:

      Hi Marian

      Many thanks for the comment. If you have any photos you’d like to share please let me know – and also info on where and when you’ve seen it to see if it ties into the rut or not!

      Cheers

      Rob

      • Marian Parsons says:

        Looking closely at my pictures, there does appear to be a frogspawn type structure, so I’m now more inclined to consider the theory of indigestible frog oviducts discarded by birds (possibly crows which are all over the fellsides and elsewhere, or herons). This would tie in with the fact that people have found these deposits on top of fence posts and the like, where birds would be the most likely perpetrators. All my many sightings of the jelly have been in a warm damp period of autumn, but others have found it at different times of the year. Some birds could have a seasonal habit of seeking out frogs to eat at certain times of the year, just as some seek out insects to eat despite normally being seed-eaters. Who knows! Anyway, frogs are moving around trying to hibernate at the moment, and young ones are dispersing. If the jelly stuff swells up on wet ground, that could partly explain the large quantities sometimes found. I’ll email you my pictures if you send me your email address as I can’t find a way of putting them into this message.

    • helvellyn says:

      Hi Marian. I was up Place Fell yesterday but didn’t see any! Will try and head up towards Angle Tarn later in the week. Could you possibly send through a photo!!. Cheers Rob

  3. David says:

    Great set of photos from Scottish incident here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/outdoors/galleries/jelly/

    Good to see you are following it up, and not dismissing it with nebulous “explanations”. Charles Fort would be proud of you.

    • helvellyn says:

      Hi David

      Many thanks for this and for the link – which I’d added into the blog somewhere I think! And for the reference to our Fortean efforts – not sure we’re quite up there with the great man but if we can get any closer to an answer on this one it’s got to be a good thing!

      Cheers

      Rob

  4. David says:

    Hi Rob. I guess the problem with all past “investigations” is that people lost interest before definite proof of origin and/or chemical constituents was found.

    For the benefit of non-forteans – here is a link to a relevant chapter in The Book of the Damned: http://www.resologist.net/damn04.htm

    • helvellyn says:

      Hi David

      Thanks again. We’ll certainly keep going here until we run out of samples and so called experts to analyse them. Thanks for the link. Particularly pertinent is the following “It is described as like gelatine, but much firmer: but, having been in water 24 hours, it swelled out, and looked altogether gelatinous”. Ties in with the puddle floating sheer size of some of the samples seen up near Angle Tarn. Don’t hold out much hope we’ll succeed in nailing this where Mr Fort didn’t but we’ll do our best!

      Cheers

      Rob

  5. Pingback: Star Jelly Help Solve The Mystery | Helvellyn's Blog

  6. Marian Parsons says:

    I came upon a documentary about this Star Jelly last night.
    This was the gist of it:
    Star Jelly documentary on National Geographic channel, 16th November 2011.
    Facts, theories and conclusions.
    1. Star Jelly has appeared in many parts of the world.
    2. It has often appeared in large quantities spread over a wide area.
    3. It has been found on city streets and not just in the countryside.
    4. It has been mentioned in literature since the middle ages.
    5. It hasn’t been seen as related to any particular season or weather pattern, but often occurs after a meteorite shower.
    6. Frozen material can be transported to earth in meteorites.
    7. It has been studied in many laboratories but with no definite conclusions – often disappearing or melting away whilst tests are being carried out.
    8. It appears to be a matrix with little or no discernable structure of its own.
    9. Where cells have been found in it, they have been bacteria, which could be a contaminant (i.e. have grown on the matrix). These bacteria can be dangerous and have made people sick.
    10. There is often far too much of the substance to connect it in any way to frogs, and tests done against frogspawn have leaned against that theory anyway.
    11. Any connection with germ warfare testing must be ruled out since the jelly has been known for so many centuries.
    12. Star Jelly is still a mystery!

  7. helvellyn says:

    Hi Marian

    Many thanks for this. Very interesting especially as all the current opinions from the University of Cumbria and yesterday from someone in the National Park are saying “categorically” that it’s frogs. However none of them at the moment seem too eager to do some thorough testing on Tom’s sample! Hopefully one of them will have the courage to try and prove it one way or another through scientific research. We live in hope!

    Cheers

    Rob

  8. mattlunt80@hotmail.co.uk says:

    Probably miles out here, but (and I will try not to be graphic) when I spent some time working on a pig farm, after the boar had ‘served’ the sow, you would find clumps of white jelly like substance on the floor similar to that appearing in the pictures.
    The farmer explained to me that this was what they called ‘stopper’ – a jelly like substance which the boar would release after he had done the deed, and which solidified on contact with air. Its purpose was literally to act as a ‘stopper’ inside the sow after he had ‘sown his oats’ to prevent any other boars from coming along and undoing all his hard work.
    Do sheep or deer produce anything similar, as both roam around freely across this type of area?
    Thought it worth a mention.
    Matt

    • helvellyn says:

      Hi Matt

      Thanks for the post. Another good one to add to the list! We still have some samples sitting in Tom’s freezer so if you know anyone who fancies doing some DNA analysis on it then let me know!

      Cheers

      Rob

  9. Stewart says:

    Like Matt’s idea but would love to know how Marion found it on top of a post.

  10. Pingback: Crookabeck Farm Shop | Helvellyn's Blog

  11. James Mason says:

    We had two strange balls of gelatinous goo/texture, transparent with a whitish center, fall on our yard today. Each about the size of a half of a tennis ball. Really weird stuff. they fell about 15 ft apart. They flattened. They seemed cold when I first found them. They fell with such force that they enveloped the dirt and grass into them. Slippery. Difficult to get a sample into a jar. I think it’s extraterrestrial. A waste product from interstellar travel from beings from the Gelatinous Goo planet!

    The white material in their centers was of a different texture. Tiny balls of white material. They looked very similar to the small white clumps that Aspertame/Nutrasweet artificial sweetener will often forms in our tea cups and in our bowels. I speculate that indigestible little white clumps that would adhere to an intestinal tract might cause a gelatinous goo forming around them in an immune response. Intestinal mucous perhaps.

    They also look exactly like your photos. I was relieved to seem them, now the world will see I’m sane about this!

    Thank you for your wonderful blog.

    James Mason
    Deep River, Ct, US

    • helvellyn says:

      Hi James

      Thanks for the great post. Sounds very similar stuff! If you managed to get a photo of it I’d love to see it

      All the best

      Rob

      • Hi guys! I have a photo I only just now retrieved from my cell phone. It’s the same stuff I’m sure of it.

        I did not realize the importance of the following until later pondering the experience of finding them; I had lift the edges of one to look underneath. I noticed a peculiar site, blades of grass were sticking up straight into the gel. Not bent over or flattened by a fall. But as if the gel formed around them without disturbing their positions one bit.

        I have a frozen sample of the gel from discovery day, small. It was difficult to maneuver into a pill jar.

        Three weeks later the Star Jellies still exist but about 50% smaller. I picked up what was left over of the one closest to my driveway, the gel was less slippery, more sticky, and its’ white center was gone. That large sample is frozen. I could not wash the gel from my hands with soap and hot water. I had to use a Terri-cloth textured towel to remove the remains from my flesh.

        I have a list of biologists at Weslyan University in Connecticut, US. I’m putting together a letter complete with links, photos, and the literate history of the Star Jelly. I will gladly bring them my samples if they are interested. I will keep your blog posted on the matter.

        As a science minded person and a Science Fiction writer, I am also in discussion with my father, a published astrophysicist, on the hypothesis that the repeated presence of meteor storms in the hours and days before they are seen, is a true correlation. Meteors due significant damage to our electromagnetic field upon entry. Behind them is a comet shaped area where electromagnetic particles have not reformed. Avoiding the use of energy to protect a traveling body/entity from the radiation and disturbance of our field would be a paramount concern if that body/entity was not traveling in a protected vessel. A disembodied, even digital, entity could conserve a great deal of energy, perhaps to used for reformation on the surface, by using the tail of the entering meteors. Reformation will expend energy, energy that may be preciously needed for the travel here and then back. No use of energy that we know of is 100% efficient. All energy use will have a waste product – to always waste something may be universal property of energy use.

        Another observation which brings many questions: In the images of star jelly I have seen, and in my experience upon finding them I notice they are not stuck in nearby trees, not landing on rooftops, not sliding off roofs and landing near homeowners’ exterior walls. They have been consistently in a place where a group of people could stand, or where one or two people would stand. If their environment is a factor in their appearance, why not on top of each other, why not pressed against each other? Additionally why so localized with feet of each other, and why are they not spaced over tens or hundreds of feet?

        In my science fiction hypothesis, the travelers are supposed to pick these up immediately and return with them. But it is night and they are startled by an appearance of a human or a light that is switched on after they arrive, perhaps there is a sound or a light from their reformation?

        I’ll try to get my photo to you. I can’t find a place to use to attach a picture. I’ll need an email address.

        BTW. I really don’t think the Scotland find is a match. The Scotland find looks very biologic and is consistently found at a pond. Our finds are well formed and the white centers are well defined. The clumping seen in the Scotland photos is indicative to me of the morning after scene from an overnight amphibians’ orgy.

        Will let you know how the sleuthing is going!

        I’ll be posting a short about it at my FaceBook page; with the picture. http://www.facebook.com/SoclJustice

      • helvellyn says:

        Hi James. Thanks for the great post. Look forward to the picture – please send to rob@helvellyn.com. Cheers!

  12. Meteors DO significant damage. DUE their atmosphere ripping velocity! :->

  13. Helvellyn says:

    Another sighting by Marian P

    “My latest sighting of Blobs, was two weeks ago (mid May)on a grass verge in Scotland, near Drumnadrochit. The same appearance and firmness, but clearly (physically) attached to mating slugs, the big black ones. We all know about slugs producing slime, but this was different and firmer stuff – google for a David Attenborough video clip. It appeared identical to the stuff we’ve been finding in the autumn. Mike and I saw two examples of it, each about 6×3 cms. I am coming to the opinion now that there could be a number of different Blobs formed in different ways, but let’s get some good, fresh, clean samples to a lab and we’ll see.
    Cheers,
    Marian.”

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  16. Marian Parsons says:

    Here we go again – the mystery jelly is back in Patterdale! I found some on Place Fell in the middle of September, but quite small, firm-ish and looking a bit like frogspawn, possibly cellular in structure. Then a couple of days ago, I found several bigger samples of quite soft and non-cellular looking jelly on the same path as last year, above Angle Tarn. Of course, the red deer are now rutting. I have pictures of both samples. I now think it can have a variety of different origins – any further observations?

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