Pollen emerges in waters along Assateague Island

Posted at 12:27 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 12:30:12-04

ASSATEAGUE ISLAND, Md. — Officials at Assateague Island National Seashore posted a photo on Facebook that captures what looks like yellow paint in the water and along the beach.

All that yellow is actually pollen, pine pollen to be exact.

“What in the world happened here?!?!?! Did someone SERIOUSLY dump yellow latex paint in the Sinepuxent and it washed up on the bayside of Assateague Island?!?!? Of course not! All of the yellow you see in this picture is actually pine pollen!,” park officials posted.

Pine pollen is considered large and should be too heavy to travel through the air, officials said.

“However, to compensate to its large size, pine pollen has two air capsules that are attached to either side of the pollen grain itself; if you were to look at pine pollen under a microscope, it would look like a Mickey Mouse head with the ears being the capsules,” officials continued in the post. “The air capsules reduce the weight of the pollen grain and make it easier to travel though the air. When the pine pollen settles out of the air and onto the water, the same air capsules make the pollen grains buoyant, so they float on the water. As the wind blows toward shore, the grains are pushed into one another and creates what appears to be a latex paint like mass along the shoreline.”