Mysterious Purple Blob Spotted on the Pacific Seafloor

July 29, 2016 | Erica Tennenhouse

Purple blob found by Nautilus crew on the seafloor
Photo credit: Screenshot from Youtube video by EVNautilus

What is it?

The crew of the Exploration Vessel Nautilus was investigating the bottom of the Pacific Ocean near the coast of Los Angeles when they spotted a creature that had them all stumped: a purple blob.

The onboard scientists’ confusion over the spherical blob is unmistakable in a YouTube video documenting their discovery.

SEE ALSO: Ten Sea Creatures We Know Very Little About


“Blobus purplus,” one crewmember suggests.

“Teeny tiny mama octopus — I’m crossing my fingers for it,” says another, hopefully.

They proceed to toss around a range of ideas: perhaps it is a type of tunicate, a sponge, or even an egg sac.

Finally, the decision is made to retrieve the mysterious creature for further investigation using suction — but not before they hit it with lasers to determine whether it is small enough to not clog the “slurp.” With the light from the lasers on it, one crewmember notes that the blob has taken on the appearance of a disco ball.

Measuring just six or seven centimeters across, the creature is easily vacuumed up. The scientists describe on their website how the unidentified purple orb proceeded to unfold to reveal two distinct lobes after sampling.

Consultation with other scientists on shore has led the team to believe that it may be a pleurobranch, closely related to the nudibranch. Both pleurobranchs and nudibranchs are soft sea slugs that often come in extraordinary colors and striking forms.

“Currently none of the known species of California deep-sea pleurobranchs are purple, so this could be a new discovery,” the scientists write.

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