A few years ago, a diver exploring the west coast of Norway encountered an unexplained object. Giant jelly-like orbOver 3 feet (1 meter) wide, hovering halfway between the seafloor and surface. A dark streak passed through the center of the orb, but otherwise the object was translucent and completely featureless.
Simply put, it was a completely mysterious blob.
Nearly 100 similar blob sightings have been reported around Norway and the Mediterranean since 1985, but the mysterious gelatinous mass has always evaded classification.Now a year of citizen science campaign and new DNA After analysis, researchers finally identified the blob as a rare egg sac of a common squid called squid. Illex coindetii..
Published in the journal on March 30th, according to a new study Science reportEach blob may contain hundreds of thousands of small squid eggs wrapped in slowly collapsing mucous bubbles.Surprisingly, scientists I.coindetii Researchers have widely observed the species on both sides of the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans for over 180 years, but this is the first time they have identified a wild squid egg sac.
“We also looked inside the actual sphere and showed squid embryos at four different stages,” Halldis Ringvold, principal research author and manager of the marine zoological organization Sea Snack Norway, told Live Science. “In addition, as the embryo develops, we can track how the sphere actually changes its consistency (from hard and transparent to ruptured and opaque).”
I.coindetii It belongs to a common group of squids called the Ommastrephidae. During breeding, the females in this group produce large eggs (or egg masses) of their own mucus to keep the embryos buoyant and safe from predators, Ringbold said. However, sightings of these masses are rare, and masses of some species have never been seen before.
Live science previously reported that some researchers suspected that the sphere was a flying squid egg mass when Norwegian blob sightings became international news a few years ago. But without DNA analysis of blob tissue, there was no way to tell which squid species produced them.
So Ringvold and his colleagues launched a civic science campaign to encourage divers to collect small tissue samples of blobs encountered in the waters near Norway. In 2019, divers obtained tissue samples from four separate masses, collected them in small PET bottles and stored them in a home refrigerator (surveys showed that tissue collection did not damage the egg masses).
The sample contained both the sticky body of the blob and embryos at various stages of development.Tissue DNA analysis confirmed that it was found in all four blobs I.coindetii Squid, researchers wrote.
So has the mystery been solved? Partially. The team writes that researchers cannot confirm that nearly 100 observed blobs all belong to the same species without sampling tissue from all spheres.However, given that all of these blobs are very similar in shape and size, “many of them” I.coindetii, The team came to a conclusion.
What are the strange and dark streaks that run through many spheres? According to researchers, this could be the ink released when the egg is fertilized.
“Inked and non-inked spheres can be the result of spheres at different stages of maturity, and inked spheres are newly generated,” the researchers write in the study. “After a while, as the embryo begins to develop, the entire sphere, including the muscles, begins to collapse.”
The team writes that the streak could be a kind of camouflage mechanism aimed at mimicking large fish and warding off potential predators. That mucous-like mysterious solution will have to come another day.
Originally published in Live Science.
Mysterious ‘blobs’ near Norway are full of squid mucus and embryos, study finds Source link Mysterious ‘blobs’ near Norway are full of squid mucus and embryos, study finds