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Found: Mysterious Bright Purple Blob, Floating in the Deep Sea

Could be a nudibranch.

THE BLOB. (Photo: Ocean Exploration Trust)

This is one of the best sounds you can hear when eavesdropping on scientists: “Oh, what is that?”

The research team of the E/V Nautilus, a vessel of the Ocean Exploration Trust, was using their remotely operated underwater vehicle to check out the deep sea around the Channel Islands when they saw something they never had before: a small, glowing purple blob. Watch them catch sight of it and get really excited:

Was it an egg sac? A marine invertebrate? An underwater disco ball for fish? The scientists were stumped but, whatever the thing was, they used the suction arm of their underwater robot to grab it.

Upon further examination, the scientists discovered it had “two distinct lobes.” One early guess is that Blobus Purpilis is some type of sea slug—perhaps a nudibranch, a marine mollusk that eschews shells. They’re soft-bodied and often lightly colored, like this thing.

It could take several years to determine what in the ocean this thing is and if it’s a new species. But our blob friend very well could be a creature no human has ever encountered before: after all, it’s not every day that one discovers a mysterious purple floating who-knows-what in the water.

Every day, we highlight one newly found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.