The oceans are home to some of the most wondrous, and also bizarre, creatures and objects. Like the 770 lb larger-than-a-mini-bus giant squid, caught from the remote Ross Sea of Antarctica. Or the adorable “leaf sheep” sea slug, with beady eyes and floppy feelers, that looks like a cartoon lamb! Equally fascinating, yet stranger perhaps, is the recent find made by a group of divers, off the coast of Turkey. On July 9, the divers stumbled upon a enormous gelatinous blob, as big as an actual car, just 22 meters below the ocean surface. The 4-meter-wide sphere has since been identified as a colossal squid egg mass.
According to Lutfu Tanriover, professional diver and the team’s videographer, the nearly-transparent mass was “very soft”, and somewhat gelatinous, to touch. Unsure of its identity, Tanriover posted the footage online, in the hope that someone would be able to recognize this mysterious object. Dr. Michael Vecchione, a marine biologist working at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, was one of the first people to respond. A well-known squid specialist, Vecchione believes that this ginormous glob is a squid egg mass, quite possibly the largest of its kind to be sighted. Deep Sea News writes:
… to him [Vecchione] this giant sphere looks like a huge squid egg mass, and it’s the largest he’s ever seen. In fact, egg masses like this may be floating off many major coasts, not just Turkey’s.
The blob, Vecchione believes, is the egg mass of a neon flying squid (Ommastrephes bartramii). Also known as red flying squid, they can grow up to 1.5 m (around 5 feet) in length. What is more, these remarkable sea creatures are gifted with the ability of flight, thanks to tentacles and fins that can be flattened, and stretched, into wings. Much like a rocket propulsion system, the squid shoot into the air by forcibly ejecting the water from their mantles.
According to Smithsonian.com, the only other egg mass that can match the recently-sighted one, in size, is a giant humboldt squid egg mass reported by Daana Staaf and her team, back in 2008. Found in the waters of the Gulf of California, it measured around 3 to 4 meters in length, and contained somewhere between 600,000 and 2 million squid eggs. Despite containing such large numbers of eggs, squid egg mass are rarely seen by humans, mainly because they inhabit far deeper waters and, take only a few days to hatch into baby squid.