A group of researchers has discovered the contents of some mysterious gelatinous spheres that have been spotted by divers for several years off the western coast of Norway. These translucent orb-shaped objects were sometimes a meter wide and were observed floating halfway between the seabed and the surface.
To put an end to speculation about what these spheres really were, a team led by the researcher Halldis ringvold, director of the organization Sea Snack Norway, decided to carry out a citizen campaign in which divers were encouraged to collect small tissue samples of these spheres, which were stored and analyzed. The results of these findings have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
DNA analysis has allowed researchers to identify these strange spheres as egg sacks of a common squid called Illex coindetii. According to this study, each spherical mass can contain hundreds of thousands of eggs tiny squid, protected in a kind of mucosa that slowly disintegrates.
Ringvold, lead author of the study, explained in an interview to Live Science the course of the investigation: “We were able to see what is inside the real sphere, the squid embryos in four different stages (…). In addition, we were able to follow how the sphere was going changing consistency, from firm and transparent to brittle and opaque, as the embryos developed “, he has described.
This type of squid, which belongs to the Ommastrephidae family, inhabit the Mediterranean and both sides of the northern Atlantic Ocean. During reproduction, the females of this group produce large egg spheres made from your own mucus to keep their embryos floating and safe from potential predators, Ringvold said.
Despite the fact that this species has been known for more than 180 years, the sightings of their egg sacks are quite rare and until now they had never been identified.