A couple of divers may have stumbled across a rarely seen phenomenon off the coast of Turkey.
Lutfu Tanriover dubbed it “the thing” in the beautiful video he shot as the group investigated a 4-metre-wide soft bubble rolling around 22 metres under the surface.
Shining a torch into it, they could see countless dots of something held within the sphere:
If you’d guessed “eggs”, you’re most likely correct. And you have science on your side in the form of Smithsonian Museum of Natural History expert Dr Michael Vecchione.
Dr Vecchione is a squid expert, to be precise, and after the video was shared online with him online, he reached out to starfish blog The Echinoblog for a possible explanation. “Possible”, because it’s the largest squid egg mass he’s ever seen.
And there’s only been one larger – just – ever documented, back in 2008 when an egg mass 3-4 metres wide was found in the Gulf of California.
That one contained up to 2 million eggs, 10 times the number of any other previously recorded. Incredibly, despite its size having just about everyone thinking “giant squid”, that sack came from the 2m-long humboldt squid, a famously aggressive species that congregates in huge numbers.
As to the owner of “the thing”, Dr Vecchione told DeepSeaNews his best guest was local species Ommastrephes bartramii – red flying squid. (They actually do fly, by flattening their bodies and jetting out of the water.)
The next question is, given there’s billions of squid in the ocean, why don’t we see their enormous, creepy egg sacks more often?
Science still doesn’t know exactly, but the most likely answer is a) because they usually lay them in much deeper waters and b) because the eggs hatch in around three days.
Here’s the full video:
You can read more about the giant sack of squid eggs at DeepSeaNews.