When Oakville, Washington was showered with mysterious blobs in 1994, a modern mystery was born. The incident has been discussed and debated ever since. How accurate is the story and the photo that often accompanies it? Today we take a look.
The story is true, but the photo is completely unrelated.
Let’s take a look at a modern version of the story as circulated on the internet in 2012:
The townspeople of Oakville, Washington, were in for a surprise on August 7, 1994. Instead of their usual downpour of rain, the inhabitants of the small town witnessed countless gelatinous blobs falling from the sky. Once the globs fell, almost everyone in Oakville started to develop severe, flu-like symptoms that lasted anywhere from 7 weeks to 3 months. Finally, after exposure to the goo caused his mother to fall ill, one resident sent a sample of the blobs for testing. What the technicians discovered was shocking – the globs contained human white blood cells. The substance was then brought to the State Department of Health of Washington for further analysis. With another startling reveal, they discovered that the gelatinous blobs had two types of bacteria, one of which is found in the human digestive system. However, no one could successfully identify the blob, and how they were connected to the mysterious sickness that plagued the town.
The Original Story
This story above is a somewhat accurate account of the events that took place in August 1994, but it has been expanded from the initial report as it has been retold over the years.
Variations from the original story:
- The person who sent the samples for testing was not a man, but a woman named Sunny Barclift. She sent the samples after her mother, friend, and herself experienced “bouts of nausea” along with the death of a kitten around that time.
- There is no mention of “two types of bacteria” in the original accounts, only discussion of cells found within the blobs.
- Aside from those “bouts of nausea” reported by Barclift, the suggestion that an illness “plagued” nearly “everyone” in the the town appears to be untrue.
- There is no mention that the illnesses reported by Ms. Barclift had a duration of “7 weeks to 3 months.”
Several years after the event, the television show Unsolved Mysteries aired a segment in which many new details were presented. In this segment it was stated that the substance “blanketed 20 square miles” on six occasions. This is also where resident Beverly Roberts first mentioned the illnesses lasting “7 weeks to 2 or 3 months.” Another resident interviewed was Dotty Hearn, the mother of Sunny Barclift, who had been interviewed in the original newspaper article. Dotty described the substance as a “gelatinous-like material” that resembled hail. She reported dizziness and nausea soon after examining the blobs. Officer David Lacey was also interviewed, and he reported becoming ill within hours of touching the material which pelted his police car during a storm.
Lab technician Mike McDowell was interviewed, stating that the blob samples had two types of bacteria, one of which is commonly found in the human digestive tract.
The episode stated that the blobs appeared 6 times in a three-week period, dozens of people fell ill, and several pets died. A year later, private lab results showed the material to be eucharyotic cells, according to microbiologist Tim Davis. This indicates the material had come from a living organism.
One additional – and mysterious – piece of information was that the hospital lab which examined the blobs identified them as human white blood cells. A lab which later examined them, however, could find no nuclei in the cells, which are present in human white blood cells.
The Unsolved Mysteries show indicated that there are no more samples of the blobs in existence.
2013 “Monumental Mysteries” Episode
The Oakville blobs were reported in a short segment on the Travel Channel series Monumental Mysteries. The episode originally aired on May 23, 2013 and included a short segment entitled “Space Goo” in which the story was summarized, and Sunny Barclift was interviewed. The segment stated that Oakville police were “inundated” with reports over a period of several days. Residents developed “flu-like symptoms” and doctors were “baffled.”
The show suggested that Oakville’s “isolated setting” would make it the “perfect military testing ground.” Ms. Barclift stated that military helicopters were seen in the days leading up to the blobs’ appearance.
“…it may have been a military experiment,” Barclift concluded.
The mystery of the Oakville blobs has been debated for years, and several theories have been presented to explain them. Below are some of the more prominent theories.
Some local residents believe the blobs were related to increased military activity and “testing” done in the area in August 1994, to the point of expressing belief that they were experiments of biological warfare.
One suggested explanation is the “Jellyfish Theory.” Local residents learned that the Air Force had been exploding live bombs in the ocean around 20 miles from the town. It is suggested that jellyfish remains may have been ejected into the air and remained suspended in the clouds until they fell with rain. Residents did not, however, report an odor one would expect if material from sea creatures had been out of the water that long. It is also not likely that the volume reported of this substance could be created from one school of jellyfish.
Modern forums regarding the incident have included the suggestion that the cause of the blobs may have been waste leaked from an airline. While this would tie into the finding of human white blood cells, it is unlikely because airline waste is commonly known as blue ice due to its color from the disinfectant in which it resides. The blobs were not reported to have any specific color.
Oakville Collusion Theory
It has been suggested by some skeptics that the residents of Oakville enhanced and embellished the original story for notoriety. The original news report in fact stated that local residents were discussing an annual jellyfish festival, and mentioned a drink called “The Jellyfish” at a local tavern.
An image of a hand holding a giant blob is often circulated with this story. This photo, however, is not related to this incident. It is actually a photo of eggs from the Northwestern Salamander (Ambystoma gracile).
The 1994 newspaper accounts of the incident describe the blobs as “half the size of rice grains” which is far different than the image associated with the story.
Please see the comments below, which include additional eyewitness accounts.
There is little doubt that something rained down on Oakville in August 1994. With little physical or photographic evidence, it is doubtful that this mystery will ever be solved. And with any unsolved mystery, a host of theories abound about the origin of the blobs.
What do you think these blobs were?
- “Mystery Blobs Were Once Alive.” Observer-Reporter 20 Aug. 1994, D1
Updated March 23, 2015
Originally published September 2012