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The aliens have landed...at Hagg Lake

COURTESY PHOTO - The arms of the spider block serve to protect and provide shelter for any underwater creature that needs it. As the water line at Hagg Lake receded near the end of summer, strange structures that had been hidden beneath the lake’s surface began to appear.

With a cinder block base and several tentacle-looking arms poking out of the top, they looked like spider or octopus creature props from a terrible B-rated horror movie.

And with more of the monsters showing up every day, visitors to the lake started asking questions.

What are they? Why are they there? Who put them in the lake? Do they hunger for human flesh?

Thankfully, there’s nothing fishy about these underwater aliens. In fact, the fish are part of the reason they’re there.

According to Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife Warm Water and Recreational Fish Biologist Gary Galovich, the “Spider Blocks” are the department’s “attempt to add a natural habitat and cover for the lake’s fish and micro-community.”

Algae and other microorganisms collect on the soft plastic tentacle arm tubing to provide a food source for multiple creatures that reside along the lake’s bottom.

The bottom of Hagg Lake is otherwise barren of shelter and protection, Galovich said. And efforts to use actual downed trees or brush ultimately resulted in the material’s decomposition, with it becoming just more lake debris to jam motorboat propellers and get caught in fishing lines.

“Back in the 1960s and '70s,” Galovich said, “worn car tires –– and sometimes whole cars –– were pushed into lakes to provide habitats for fish.

“Some of those things I might be philosophically opposed to.”

But with the cinder block-plastic tubing devices, propellers bounce off and fishing lines slip past without much trouble.

With the help of the Oregon Bass and Panfish Club, Galovich has seen to the placement of nearly 500 Spider Blocks since 2010.