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Scientists Stumped: Underwater Photographer Captures Picture of Mysterious Gelatinous Ball; 'A Bit of Science Fiction'

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HORDALAND, Norway -- A mysterious gelatinous ball has puzzled and fascinated researchers after undersea photographer Rudolf Svensen spotted it while diving at the mouth of the Matre fjord in Hordaland, western Norway.

On Oct. 1 Rudolf and his brother Erling were diving when he spotted the unusual object.

"It was 50-70 centimeters (19.5-27.5 inches) in diameter and looked like a huge beach ball. It was transparent but had a kind of thick, red cord in the middle. It was a bit science-fiction," Svensen told newspaper Bergens Tidende's web site.

The Svensens contacted associate professor Torleiv Brattegard at the University of Bergen, and other experts were notified to try and solve the mystery.

Brattegard was convinced the object was organic, and possibly a species unknown to Norway.

"It might be an animal, the remains of algae, something which has been alive, or a mysterious accumulation of microorganisms," were some of Brattegard's initial theories.

On Friday Brattegard told NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) that the mystery may have been solved.

Colleague Arne Fjellheim, who works with Stavanger Museum, tipped off Brattegard that the organism resembled a photograph from New Zealand that he had seen. A zoology professor and squid expert in New Zealand corroborated by email - the peculiar gelatinous ball was a large squid egg sack.

"The gelatinous lump contains several fertilized eggs. This is not at all a common sight, because squids are some of the most inaccessible animals known," Fjellheim told

Fjellheim told that squid are found in such numbers along the Norwegian coast that they are a commercial catch, and used mostly as bait. Despite this, extremely little is known about their biology.


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Reader Comments

37 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

I do not think that it is a squids egg sack. You should go back into the water were you found it and look for more. When or if you find more you should grab it and bring it to scientists.
   comment# 1   - Jake · chandler, U.S.A. · Nov 17, 2006 @ 6:08pm

looks like a large piece of alge,a bubble,looks like an egg in a way,probably has something growing inside it,when i first looked at it,it looked like a jellyfish of somesorts but that is very slim of it being,hope theres some new updates
   comment# 2   - Dan · usa · Nov 26, 2006 @ 12:56pm

well it looks like some sort of jellyfish. or it could be just an illusion created by the water, you never know
   comment# 3   - micheal everett · georgia, USA · Nov 27, 2006 @ 4:44pm

Buggered if I know what it is!
   comment# 4   - Peter · Scotland · Dec 3, 2006 @ 4:53am

In South Africa we have jellyfish that look like that, but they are only the size of a tennisball, might be that this is the mother of them all...
   comment# 5   - Nakkie · RSA · Dec 28, 2006 @ 5:24am

It is a jelly fish - called Big Red.
   comment# 6   - Anonymous Coward · Washington, D.C. · Jan 7, 2007 @ 2:40pm

My first glance of this picture reminded me of worm egg cases, which are common in North Carolina estuaries. Many people mistake them for Jellies, but if you look closely you can see worm larvae inside. I would love to dissect this specimen!
   comment# 7   - Matt · Wilmington, NC, USA · Jan 7, 2007 @ 6:47pm

fortean to say the least!
   comment# 8   - paul w. · michigan, usa · Jan 7, 2007 @ 7:00pm

That darn Spongebob's at it again.
   comment# 9   - squidward · bikini bottom · Jan 7, 2007 @ 7:18pm

Spongebob and Patrick are at it again.
   comment# 10   - Squidward · Bikini Bottom,USA · Jan 7, 2007 @ 7:29pm

I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords.
   comment# 11   - alien egg · mars · Jan 7, 2007 @ 8:13pm

I saw one of those when I was in Taipai for my 50th birthday. We were in the ocean on a scuba diving trip, and I saw several of them and was amazed at how elegantly they moved. My girlfreind, who was 12 at the time, thought she was stung by one, whatever it was, but we don't think that was the culprit, we suspect it was a simple jellyfish sting. I regret now not photographing it.
   comment# 12   - Jeremy Fleming · Barrie Ontario Canada · Jan 8, 2007 @ 2:47am

It's a jelly fish caught inside a whale fart!!
   comment# 13   - Jim · East Coast USA · Jan 8, 2007 @ 5:22am

Parrotfish secrete large gell masses around them to sleep at night and wriggle free in the morning. We see them in the Red Sea. That's what it looks like, but in NORWAY??!!!
   comment# 14   - Asshat · Saudi · Jan 8, 2007 @ 5:57am

Does anyone else think its strange that the guy above willingly admits having a 12 year old girlfriend on his 50th birthday?
   comment# 15   - Tony · USA · Jan 8, 2007 @ 6:32am

yeah I caught that too. Legal age in Canada is 14 so he might be legal now. And as for the jelly ball as an oilfield diver in the gom, I see all kinds of jellyfish. Seems I never see the same kind twice so jellyfish is my guess
   comment# 16   - Trey · houston,TX · Jan 8, 2007 @ 7:31am

   comment# 17   - Toad · USA · Jan 8, 2007 @ 7:49am

Petty know not what lies below the surface. Meddle more in what you understand not and I shall devour your soul. By the Nine Tongues, Mahlegeth Slumbers. By the Nine Tongues, Mahlegeth Stirs. By the Nine Tongues, Mahlegeth Rises. By the Nine Tongues, HE will devouer us all.
   comment# 18   - Hiram · Deep in the Ocean of the Coast of the USA · Jan 8, 2007 @ 8:05am

I noticed that 12 year old gf too and I nearly spit my drink on my laptop at work.
   comment# 19   - Jon · USA · Jan 8, 2007 @ 8:16am

lol....that is TOO PHUNNY "my girlfriend who was 12 at the time"....ROFL
   comment# 20   - Jonathan · roanoke, usa · Jan 8, 2007 @ 9:51am

"It's a jelly fish caught inside a whale fart!!" & "My girlfreind, who was 12 at the time" are classic statements. Thanks guys, haven;t laughed this much (and spewed milkshake down my nose) for a loooong time
   comment# 21   - David · Roanoke, VA, USA · Jan 8, 2007 @ 10:50am

am i the only one that thinks Hiram fell off his rocker,lost his marbles watever you want to call it?
   comment# 22   - jeff · oh,usa · Jan 9, 2007 @ 4:13pm

If you take a perspective that you are looking down on top of this innocent animal, I believe you will see it is nothing more than a large turtle, the pointed nose of the head near the bottom of the picture, and each of the other protrusions spaced around the sides, are feet, for crying out loud. The photo is somewhat blurred, which enhances the idea that this is some "monster," but it certainly looks like a turtle to me, having personally known and handled many large snapping turtles. I do not believe this to be a "Snapper," as its shell is too round, but I think those Norwegians have pulled a joke on you. Happy Snapping. FatherWolf
   comment# 23   - FatherWolf · New Hartford, USA · Jan 11, 2007 @ 11:24am

Hmmm, anyone remember "The Prisoner" ???
   comment# 24   - Molly Kirkland · Powells Point, NC · Jan 13, 2007 @ 7:09pm

I think there just faking it to get attention they think people are dumb enough to believe their lies well you know what i dont believe it.
   comment# 25   - Jessica · Fort Worth Tarrant · Jul 21, 2007 @ 2:17pm

I would like to know what it is cause it is floating around in my pond in binghamton ny
   comment# 26   - grace · broome · Aug 5, 2007 @ 6:19pm

It could be a Giant Squids egg, i mean we don't see those often so they probably travel together which would show why this egg is alone.
   comment# 27   - Steve · USA · Sep 18, 2007 @ 7:29pm

Why are we concerned about the man with the little girl for companionship? Isn't that what every old man with sexual disfunctions get to make him feel special. I believe it is a large jellyfish.
   comment# 28   - Betty · Chicago, USA · Dec 30, 2007 @ 5:33pm

it's not a jellyfish called big red... That is what big red looks like. ^
   comment# 29   - anon · Hanover, USA · Jan 5, 2008 @ 8:14am

there are many things floating around in the ocean that are seldom seen and harder to explain. jellyfish are one of the larger and more diverse groups of animals in the ocean. it's likely its another of them. also, from the types of comments some people post on these thngs, i wonder why posting comments is even allowed...after reading many of them, i just shake my head..they certainly do nothing to help one undertstand the article they where written in reference too...
   comment# 30   - ed · Winfred, USA · Sep 21, 2008 @ 9:01pm

We have same gelatinous thingy's in our farm pond. Not close to an ocean by any means. Have no idea what they are. They do seem to float and then one day they just disappear, dry up, whatever. Very odd!
   comment# 31   - Marcia Kramer · Spencer, USA · Jul 21, 2009 @ 2:33pm

I'd say it's a jellyfish of some short. There are probably a hundred unknown jellyfish species lurking out there, it's just a matter of time before they start to pop up as we explore more and more of the ocean. As for that gentleman above with the "12-year-old", all I can say is what is wrong with you? And contrary to popular belief, 14 is only the legal age of consent in Alberta. In the rest of Canada it's 16.
   comment# 32   - Dave Milligan · Scarborough, Ontario · Sep 2, 2009 @ 3:56pm

This is most likely to be a large sea squirt, i would have said it was a colony of algal cells but the umbilicus to me seems to be a water channel for gathering plankton - meaning its an animal. Its unlikely to be a jellyfish as it doesn't fit into any morphological group, missing tentacles,and is not Medusa shaped.... I'm going with large sea squirt.
   comment# 33   - Ollie Dubock · London, England · Nov 16, 2009 @ 8:23am Also find samekind "scifiball". from Kristiansund, Norway. 11.8.2010. diameter 80 cm. in 15 m deep. Photo and video.
   comment# 34   - Tapio Salakari · Turku, Finland · Aug 16, 2010 @ 8:20am

Foto mistery It was 70-100 centimeters -50 punta campanella 24 apr 2011.
   comment# 35   - Katia · Italy · Apr 30, 2011 @ 8:21am

I ever seen one in the meditterranean sea, near to Toulon. It was a very strange thing, about 1m long, with a little fish inside. I haven't hear nothing about it before today...
   comment# 36   - Nico · France · May 7, 2011 @ 3:42am

I was snorkeling today , something do very often since i live in the Caribbean my first time i seen something like this but not only one but alot from back ones to clear ones i did took a look to me are like fish eggs and the clear ones you do see a vain inside
   comment# 37   - Rute · St.Croix ,Usvi · Sep 3, 2015 @ 3:57pm
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