SCIENCE
07/29/2015 05:51 am ET Updated Jul 29, 2015

Divers Find Giant Floating Blob, Have No Idea What It Is

But a squid expert says he might have solved the mystery.

 

While under water off the coast of Turkey, a group of divers encountered a translucent blob about the size of a car.

The blob felt “very soft,” divers said, and appeared “gelatinous.” From afar, the mass looked almost invisible, but up close, the group spotted countless little dots floating in the 13-foot sphere.

 

Diver Lutfu Tanriover, who captured the blob (which he called “the thing”) on video, told the blog Deep Sea News that the group felt both “excitement and fear” as they approached the mysterious mass.

Even after close inspection, the divers say they couldn’t figure out what the blob was.

 

As Tanriover’s mesmerizing video went viral earlier this month, the Internet leapt at the chance to solve the mystery.

Christopher Mah of The Echinoblog ended up being the first to the plate. Mah said in a tweet that Dr. Michael Vecchione, a squid expert and scientist at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, had come up with a possible answer.

The blob, Vecchione said, was likely an enormous squid egg mass -- the “largest” he’s ever seen.

The scientist speculated that a squid called Ommastrephes bartramii (also known as the red flying squid or the neon flying squid) could be responsible for the mass. Red flying squid are a “common species” that can grow to around 5 feet in length, Smithonian.com says.

Red flying squid (British Museum of Natural History/Wiki Commons)

 

As Deep Sea News notes, only one other squid egg mass of such enormity has ever been documented.

In 2008, a 10- to 13-foot egg mass, laid by the large Humboldt squid (which, like the red flying squid, is in the Ommastrephidae family), was found in the Gulf of California. That mass contained between 600,000 and 2 million eggs. At the time, scientists said it was “far larger than the egg masses of any squid species previously reported.”

As for why such squid egg masses are so rarely spotted, Deep Sea News says it might be because of the depth that they're usually found, and the short duration of time that it takes for the squid babies to hatch.

“These egg masses are likely found much deeper in the ocean and only occasionally drift to shallow water,” the blog notes. “Another factor is time... [In the case of the 2008 mass] the developing squid.. took just three days to hatch. That’s a pretty small window to find such a well-hidden target.” 

 

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