Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Scientists fight crab for mysterious purple orb discovered in California deep

E/V Nautilus team find likely sea slug 5,000ft below sea off Santa Barbara
Analysis reveals foot and proboscis, making it ‘a gastropod of some kind’

Saturday 30 July 201611.00 BSTLast modified on Saturday 30 July 201617.37 BST

More than 5,000ft below the surface of the ocean, in a canyon off the coast of southern California, the purple, globular creature appeared to glow under the submersible’s lights.

 “What is that?” one researcher asked, as the submersible’s camera moved over a crab to where the tiny orb hovered near a ledge.

“I’m stumped,” another replied. “I have no idea. I can’t even hazard a guess.”

“Are we going to grab it?” a third asked. The crab, startled by the submarine, scuttled toward the ledge. “Unless the crab gets it first.”

One of the crab’s spindly limbs knocked the orb, but it clung steadfast in place. A researcher guessed it could be related to plankton, the “kind that are sort of lumpy and thick like that”. Another tried “an egg sack of some sort” with “a little embryo type thing inside”.

The team trained a vacuum at the creature, ready to suction it into a storage container.

“It looks like a disco ball right now with the lasers next to it,” one scientist said. Before long, the purple mystery was transferred from the depths to the waiting ship above.

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