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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 iBergen.no.

Fjellheim told Aftenposten.no 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.

source: http://www.aftenposten.no

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