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Mývatn’s ‘Juveniles’ in Intensive Care

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Mývatn’s ‘Juveniles’ in Intensive Care

Lake balls

The ‘juveniles’ in a researcher’s hands. Photo: Mývatn Nature Research Center/Facebook

‘Juvenile’ lake balls, or marimo, the free-floating spherical growth form Aegagropila linnaei, have been found in lake Mývatn again, much to the delight of researchers. It’s a species of filamentous green algae, which was believed to have disappeared from the lake in 2013.

The news was posted on the Facebook page of the Mývatn Nature Research Center Thursday. The ‘juveniles’ washed up on the lakeshore on Thursday. According to the Facebook post they “were taken to intensive care.”

The species has suffered a global decline so severe that it exists in only two lakes in the world today, lake Mývatn, where it’s called kúluskítur, and in Lake Akan in Japan, where it goes by the name marimo.

According to the website of the Natural History Museum of Kópavogur, Lake Akan is a highly protected area and the lake balls are regarded as a natural treasure. Lake balls in Mývatn lake are generally 10-12 cm in diameter, but there is nothing to indicate their annual growth, so their age is unknown.

The plant’s spherical form is highly unusual among plants, and its structure is unique. There is no core at the center from which algal filaments grow in all directions, continuously branching and making up the spherical form.

Lately, there have been serious worries about the biosphere of Mývatn lake, which appears to be suffering from increasing tourism in the area, among other things due to lack of proper sewer solutions. Over 3,700 signatures have been collected in a petition to authorities to protect the lake.

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