Strange blob discovered on ocean floor could be new species
Sunday, July 31, 2016, 5:43 PM - Scientists were left scratching their heads after discovering a mysterious purple blob on the ocean floor of the Arguello Canyon in California.
The researchers were near the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus, and managed to capture video of the strange sea creature (see below).
Several can be heard in the video attempting to identify the blob, debating whether it could be a salp, tunicate or egg sac.
"I'm stumped. I have no idea," says one scientist. "It looks like a disco ball."
At one point the team moves their remotely operated vehicle to grab the blob, which measures about 4 cm in length.
"After sampling it, it began to unfold to reveal two distinct lobes," the team wrote on the Nautilus website.
They think it is likely a pleurobranch, a relative of the nudibranch, which are soft-bodied, marine gastropod molluscs (sea slugs) that shed their shells after their larval stage. They are known to come in a wide variety of shapes and colours.
"Currently none of the known species of California deep-sea pleurobranchs are purple, so this could be a new discovery," the website says.
The E/V Nautilus is operated by Robert Ballard, who is widely known for discovering the wreckage of the RMS Titanic. The crew is exploring ocean waters off the coast of Los Angeles until mid-August as part of their four-month research mission in Californian and Canadian waters.