Researchers exploring the deep ocean off the coast of Alaska recently stumbled upon a perplexing find while piloting a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). As part of the Seascape Alaska 5 expedition, they found a mysterious golden orb on the seabed, and nobody was quite sure what it was.
Journeying thousands of meters below the surface has turned up all kinds of strange finds, from creepy yellow-brick roads to bizarre Mariana Trench animals. They say we know more about the surface of the Moon than we do about the deep sea, and when scientists are tripping over golden mystery eggs, it certainly feels like it.
The shiny blob was spotted at a depth of 3.1 kilometers (2 miles), anchored to a rocky surface. Most curious of all, the mysterious object had a hole in it, inspiring one researcher to say during the live feed, “Something tried to get in… or to get out,” reports the Miami Herald.
A comical robot arm – that to Teletubbies fans surely looks like Noo-Noo got a job in marine biology – was used to investigate the golden orb more closely. At another point on the live feed, researchers are able to delicately vacuum up a stack of strange discs embedded in a sea wall, demonstrating the surprising control they have while remotely manipulating deep sea environments.
“I just hope when we poke it, something doesn’t decide to come out,” said another member of the expedition team. “It’s like the beginning of a horror movie.”
The working theories suggest it's likely either a shiny egg casing or the remains of some kind of sponge, but they have no definitive answers yet. Identifying the mystery orb will require closer inspection, and thankfully our remote-operated Noo-Noo was able to suck up the specimen.
While much mystery surrounds the object’s identity, one thing we can be sure of is that it’s definitely a deep-sea oddity.
“When our collective knowledge can’t identify it, it’s something weird,” said another team member.
Seascape Alaska 5 kicked off on August 23, trundling through the waters of Kodiak, Alaska, through to Seward. The expedition team is focusing on marine habitats below 200 meters (656 feet), going as deep as 6,000 meters (19,685 feet), mapping the environment as they go.
The goal? “To explore deep-sea coral and sponge habitats, fish habitats, chemosynthetic communities, and the water column and to improve knowledge of past and potential geohazards,” said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and best of all? You can tag along. “Thanks to telepresence technology, anyone with an internet connection is invited to watch and listen as members of the science community actively engage and guide each dive.”
Visit the NOAA Seascape Alaska 5 site for access to the expedition’s live streams.
[H/T: The Economic Times]
This article has been updated to include more images of the mystery object.