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Nature

Pod Of Orcas Caught With An Enormous Eyeball

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Justine Alford

Guest Author

clockAug 22 2015, 18:05 UTC
1940 Pod Of Orcas Caught With An Enormous Eyeball
Menno Schaefer/Shutterstock

My, what a big ball you have. Eyeball, that is.

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While out and about in the Sea of Cortez, or the Gulf of California, a few months ago, BBC film crew and whale biologist Mark Carwardine came across something rather unexpected.

The team was trying to track down a mother humpback and her calf, but instead came across a pod of orcas splashing about at the surface. Since this kind of behavior is typically observed post-kill, the team feared that the orcas may have taken down the humpback calf.

As the crew approached, they pulled some fleshy remains out of the water, but they were in for a serious surprise. What they recovered turned out to be a giant eyeball. Way too big to have been from the calf.

So what animal was the former owner of this hand-sized, gooey eye? The initial thought was that it could belong to a squid. A massive one, of course, but could it be from a giant, or maybe even a colossal squid? Too big to be a Humboldt, researcher Joff Fenton told IFLScience, so it’s down to some DNA analysis to reveal its identity. The problem scientists have faced, though, is that squid have high levels of ammonia affect the process of assembling the DNA fragments. “The bigger the squid, the more the ammonia,” explained Fenton.

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Hopkins Marine Laboratory scientists tried twice to extract DNA to identify it, but with no luck. Are we going to be able to ID this bad boy? Hopefully we will find out soon, but in the meantime, check out this footage of the find, part of the BBC's awesome Big Blue Live:

 


Nature
  • squid,

  • colossal squid,

  • killer whale,

  • orca,

  • humboldt squid,

  • eye,

  • giant squid,

  • eyeball

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