Red Rain

Rotifers Keep Falling on My Head

Occasionally reddish one-celled organisms are picked-up and deposited in the form of rain or unicellular lifeforms. Waldo L. McAtee, in his classic article "Showers of Organic Matter," (Monthly Weather Review, #45 May 1917, pp. 217-224), suggested that red rains are due to rapidly multiplying reddish algae and rotifers, living in rain pools.

"But in no case have they rained down," McAtee asserted dogmatically, "except in the sense that their spores or eggs have at some time been transported, probably by the wind. The precipitation of moisture furnishes favorable conditions for their rapid development and multiplication."

Professor Brun of the University of Geneva reported the results of his investigation into a red rain in La Nature (September 25, 1880). Rocks and vegetation near Djebel-Sekra, Morocco, were covered with scales of a red material that he identified as the algae Protococcus fluvialis. Brun explained that the algae had been deposited there by a whirlwind. The father of the modern study of strange phenomena--Charles Fort--noted in his book Lo! (The Books of Charles Fort, p. 583) that at least here was a case in which a scientist agreed that a red fluid did fall from the sky. Now we have several cases where scientists have agreed that red rain has fallen. Red rain might be an old-wives-tale, but it is one that sometimes happens.


İMark Chorvinsky, 1995