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Those pink blobs in Phoenix canal walls aren't gum. They're apple snail eggs — and they're invasive

If you’ve walked or cycled along the Grand Canal between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street in the past few days, you may have noticed some bubblegum pink blobs stuck to the sides of the canal walls, just above the waterline. Look closer — and you'll see the blobs are not discarded wads of gum but a cluster of several hundred tiny eggs. 

We wondered — what are these?  So we reached out to Salt River Project, manager of the canals, to find out. 

An environmental scientist at SRP says that from the description, it sounds like apple snail egg masses. Apple snails are non-native and invasive. 

So far, the egg masses have not impacted canal operations. It’s more of an aesthetic issue. But the snails can reproduce quickly — females can lay a new egg cluster every five to 14 days.  

Originally from South America, this isn’t the first time apple snails have shown up in Arizona. Last year, Cronkite News reported that the invasive pink blobs had been spotted in areas along the Salt River.

Indeed, according to SRP, the apple snails may be an issue for Salt River tubers stepping on their large, rounded shells.

True to its name, an apple snail can actually grow to the size of a small apple. And while they are regularly consumed in other parts of the world, the snails are apparently quite harmful to humans if eaten raw or undercooked. Apples snails are a host to a parasite that can infect mammals including humans. So, if you handle them, remember to wash your hands. 

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Sativa Peterson is a journalist, librarian and archivist.From 2017-2022 Peterson worked as the collection manager for the Arizona Newspaper Project and the Arizona Historical Digital Newspaper Project, special collections of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.Between 2017-2019 Peterson was the project director for a National Digital Newspaper Program grant awarded to the state of Arizona through a partnership between the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Peterson helped digitize over 100,000 pages of historic newspaper content for the Chronicling America and Arizona Memory Project websites.Her work has appeared in local and national publications such as New Times, BUST and Modern Loss and she has hosted the workshop, “Time Travel Through Historic Newspapers,” at Valley bookstore Changing Hands.Peterson’s short personal documentary, “The Slow Escape,” originally released in 1998, is now on the Criterion Channel.Peterson’s first job in high school was at KINO 1230 AM in her hometown, Winslow, Arizona. Peterson worked afternoon and evening shifts spinning county music in the high desert.