A group of researchers conducting deep-sea exploration off the coast of Alaska made a fascinating discovery last week.
They retrieved a distinctive brassy-yellow object from the seafloor at a depth of over 3.2 kilometers. However, the researchers have yet to determine the exact nature of their enigmatic discovery.
Sam Candio, who serves as a coordinator for the ongoing NOAA expedition, expressed the team’s intrigue, stating, “While we were able to collect the ‘golden orb’ and bring it onto the ship, we still are not able to identify it beyond the fact that it is biological in origin.”
The unusual object, measuring approximately 4 inches in width (10 centimeters), was securely affixed to a rock on August 30th at a staggering depth of 10,827 feet (3,300 meters) off the coast of Alaska. Scientists discovered this while employing the remotely operated vehicle Deep Discoverer, which was actively used by the NOAA vessel known as the Okeanos Explorer.
This intriguing find occurred within the context of the ongoing expedition named Seascape Alaska 5: Gulf of Alaska Remotely Operated Vehicle Exploration and Mapping, scheduled to continue until September 16th. The research team’s efforts are part of a broader mission to uncover the mysteries of the deep-sea ecosystem in the Gulf of Alaska.
Beneath the ocean’s surface, the perplexing object exhibited intriguing features. It possessed a small hole near its base, firmly attached to the rock. The internal coloration resembled the external yellow-brown appearance.
Researchers initially speculated about various possibilities regarding the object’s identity, including its potential to be an egg casing, a deceased portion of a sea sponge, or even a previously undiscovered type of coral. The precise nature of this enigmatic object continues to captivate the scientific community as further investigations unfold.
Sam Candio emphasized that a deeper understanding of the mysterious object may require bringing it into a laboratory setting. There, scientists can leverage more advanced tools and tap into the collective expertise of the scientific community. The equipment available on the research vessel is limited compared to the resources available in a dedicated laboratory.
Candio acknowledged that while it may be humbling to be perplexed by this discovery, it serves as a poignant reminder of the vast amount that remains to be learned about our planet and the ocean that covers a significant portion of it.
The specimen, collected by the Deep Discoverer’s suction sampler, is currently on board the Okeanos Explorer. The research team hopes they will be able to identify it more definitively.
When removed from the water, the dome-shaped structure resembles wet cardboard, but given its appearance in its natural underwater habitat, it is clear that it is not a simple piece of damp cardboard. The ongoing investigation holds the promise of shedding light on this intriguing mystery.