A mysterious, glowing purple orb found deep beneath California waters has left researchers puzzled. What exactly is this strange blob?
The blob appears like a bright and dazzling purple disco ball under the sea. The Smithsonian Museum even compared it to an unhatched Pokémon. But the purple blob is something else.
In a recent expedition, experts on the vessel E/V Nautilus discovered the peculiar blob on the bottom of the ocean near the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. They recovered it with the help of a remotely operated vehicle.
In a video capturing the precise moment they discovered the blob, the researchers could be heard expressing their surprise.
"We have like a dark purple blob on the left," one of the scientists said.
"Blobus purplus," another joked.
Thus began the attempt to find out what the blob is. One of their initial hypotheses is that the blob is an embryo of some sort or some kind of spider egg sac.
"Maybe we should leave it," a researcher said. "[W]e don't want to mess with spider egg sacks."
The team was able to suction up the orb, which has a diameter of about 5 centimeters (1.96 inches), after it encountered a meddling red crab.
The purple blob was taken from an underwater canyon approximately 5,301 feet (1,616 meters) deep, according to Susan Poulton, a spokesperson from the research team.
And although the scientists brought the tiny blob on board the E/V Nautilus to examine it, they still have no concrete idea of what it really is.
After a closer inspection, however, researchers believe that the purple blob may be most likely a type of sea slug known as pleurobranch.
This sea slug is a relative of the nudibranch, which is known by scientists for its brilliant hues. The nudibranch also resides in a wide range of environments, including warm and cold waters on variety of ocean floors. Most of these species are only about the size of a hand or a finger.
However, although this hypothesis may be plausible, the purple color of the mysterious creature raises some questions.
According to the Nautilus team, none of the known species of pleurobranchs in California are purple. This suggests that the purple blob may be a new species.
And in order to determine whether the object is a pleurobranch, scientists will still have to find rhinophores or ear-like structures on the purple blob, as well as a gill under the mantle under the right side. These features are commonly present among pleurobranchs.
Meanwhile, the team has sent samples of the purple blob to their colleagues at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology to consult about its identification.
Watch the video of the purple blob's discovery below.