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Dozens of people noticed their feet were stained black at a Maine beach. The cause: millions of dead flies.

Summary List PlacementMillions of tiny black kelp flies are staining people's feet black on beaches in Maine and New Hampshire. Dozens of people in Maine and New Hampshire complained to officials and on social media about the soles of their feet turning black after visiting local beaches, and for days,...

Ogunquit Beach from Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine.

Summary List Placement

Millions of tiny black kelp flies are staining people’s feet black on beaches in Maine and New Hampshire.

Dozens of people in Maine and New Hampshire complained to officials and on social media about the soles of their feet turning black after visiting local beaches, and for days, no one could figure out the cause.

But Jim Britt, a spokesman for Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, told the New York Times that dead flies are likely to blame.

He said millions of tiny black kelp flies have appeared to die on a stretch of beach in southern Maine. One area that was particularly impacted was Wells Beach, The Portland Press Herald reported earlier this week.

“It’s not known why,” Britt told The Times. “Nature does crazy stuff. This might be one of those instances.”

Steve Dickson, a marine geologist with Maine Geological Survey, told the Press Herald that the kelp flies eat plants that contain naturally occurring pigment, which can transfer to a person’s skin if they come in contact with it.

“This is the first time I’ve seen or heard of this in my 35 years,” Dickson said.

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