potato sponges
Ray Slavicki, of Ship Bottom, pulls a potato sponge out of Barnegat Bay on Saturday. Press photo by Ray Cembor

These potatoes are not what you would call appetizing.

Thousands of dead potato sponges have floated to the shore of Long Beach Island over the past week, causing local officials and residents to scratch their heads and plug their noses.

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The sponges — which officials have determined are not a health hazard — are grayish, water-filtering organisms filled with organic material that rots and gives off a terrible smell.

“I love potatoes, but I never heard of potato sponges,” Ship Bottom Borough Councilman Ed English said Saturday. “They give off a real foul odor.”

English said Public Works officials discovered them Thursday and contacted the Ocean County Health Department. While the department performed tests and took water samples, government officials closed the beach between 12th and 16th streets. The strand has since reopened.

The results came back negative for sewage or any other public health hazard. English said Public Works always removes foreign objects from the beach and will continue to do so.

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