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Feds investigate 'large balloon' found by fishermen near Alaska's Aleutian chain

Debris of what appears and took the debris to JBER
Sofia Stuart-Rasi
Military personnel at the Tom Madsen Airport in Unalaska load what appears to be the balloon onto a U.S. Coast Guard (C-130) on March 2. The plane was flown to Joint Base Elmendorf–Richardson

Commercial fishermen off the coast of Alaska found what the U.S. Department of Defense is calling a “large balloon with payload” and delivered it to the U.S. Coast Guard in Dutch Harbor.

Officials haven’t confirmed when the balloon was found but reporters with KUCB saw a bundle of parachute-like material being loaded onto a Coast Guard C-130 airplane on March 2. The balloon was sent to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage for further investigation.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski referred to the balloon as an “item of national interest.”

According to the Department of Defense, the balloon was caught in the nets of an unnamed American fishing vessel and the Coast Guard asked the fishermen to store the materiel on board until docking in Dutch Harbor.

Multiple agencies will analyze the object to learn more about its origin and purpose.

“We do not know why the balloon was in the waters off the coast of Alaska nor are we going to characterize it at this time,” wrote Department of Defense spokesperson Sue Gough in an email.

The FBI and Alaska National Guard were also involved in the recovery.

Sofia was born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She’s reported around the U.S. for local public radio stations, NPR and National Native News. Sofia has a Master of Arts in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Journalism from the University of Montana, a graduate certificate in Documentary Studies from the Salt Institute and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Arts from the University of Colorado Boulder. In between her studies, Sofia was a ski bum in Telluride, Colorado for a few years.
Born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, Andy Lusk is a writer, travel enthusiast and seafood aficionado who won the jackpot by landing in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. When he's not hiking or working on his latest story, you can find him curled up with his cats and a good book. Andy is a Report for America corps member and an alumnus of New York University.
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