Earlier this month we reported on a weird gelatinous tube found floating in the surf off the coast of Australia. Speculation abounded as to what the bizarre creature might be, with many suggesting that the translucent cylinder provided a rare glimpse of a creature known as a giant pyrosome.
But now marine biologist and jellyfish specialist Rebecca Helm has thrown her hat into the ring, suggesting that what we’re seeing is not a pyrosome at all but potentially a giant mass of squid eggs. Having previously written about these videos and images that tend to go viral every so often, Helm admitted that “identifying long blob animals is a rather esoteric art.”
But there are a few clues suggesting the tube is not all it seemed, Live Science reported. First off pyrosomes, which are related to sea squirts, tend to have an external covering, which this giant ocean blob seems to lack. The thing in the picture is almost see-through in appearance.
Yet it is not so much the translucent nature of the object that gives away its true identity, rather the appearance of lots of little dots. This suggests that it might be a huge mass of squid eggs, which characteristically share the object's rosy tint and are normally arranged in a string-like fashion. However, the lack of close-up images of the discovery makes it difficult to say for certain what it is.
And if in the end, it was indeed the eggs of a cephalopod, what giant monster of the deep would have been responsible for creating this massive tube of doom? More likely than not, it was probably a modest diamond squid, as discussed in a paper published in ZooKeys. These beasties tend to grow to around 1 meter (3 feet) in length, reaching a weight of around 20 kilograms (44 pounds).
As always, however, we can’t be 100 percent certain that the diamond squid is responsible. But it seems likely that it was indeed the culprit, even though egg mass morphology can vary quite a bit.
If this makes it seem slightly less exciting, then fear not. Helm went on to write that “if anything, this is more exciting.” In the endless expanse of the ocean, these egg masses are astonishingly rare. If Helm had been there, she would have been “screaming with joy through [her] regulator.”
[H/T: Live Science]