Update, August 23: Nearly a month after it was first discovered, the scientists still have no idea what the purple orb is! “We don't have a definitive identification yet,” an E/V Nautilus spokesperson says in an email. “We're waiting on further analysis from on-shore science teams.”
Deep under the sea, near the Channel Islands several miles off the coast of California, marine scientists noticed a glowing purple orb hiding in the shadows. They zoomed in on the creature with an underwater robot camera — and were completely mystified. They had never seen anything like this before.
“I’m stumped,” you can hear one of the scientists say in the video below, as they watch a live feed. “I have no idea. I couldn’t even hazard a guess.”
In the video, you can hear the scientists — part of the ocean research vessel E/V Nautilus — chatter in real time, completely agog about what they are approaching.
Some snippets from their conversation:
“What if it’s an egg sack of some sort?”
“Is that a little embryo-type thing inside?”
“Maybe it’s a spider egg sack?”
“Maybe we should leave it, then, we don’t want to mess with spider egg sacks.”
“Get some lasers.”
“It looks like a disco ball right now.”
The team brought it onboard the ship for further analysis. And they still have no idea what it is.
We're still working on an ID for our mysterious purple orb, but it may be a pleurobranch (sea slug relative). Watch: https://t.co/PVgZ5vBkqm— E/V Nautilus (@EVNautilus) July 27, 2016
Their best guess is that it’s a type of pleurobranch (kind of like a sea slug). Or it could be a newly discovered species altogether. You can watch their Twitter feed for further updates.
As we await the naming of the orb, the video serves as a reminder that the ocean is still a mysterious place, even for marine scientists. In total, humans have explored less than 5 percent of the ocean floor.
Who knows what other glowing wonders are out there?