Exploration

Mysterious 'Purple Blob' Spotted Off California Coast

The unidentified purple orb could represent a previously unknown type of egg sac or a new species.

A mysterious "purple blob" in the Pacific Ocean off of California's southern coast was spotted this week by Ocean Exploration Trust's vessel, Nautilus.

The as-of-yet unidentified purple orb could represent a previously unknown type of egg sac or a new species, according to researchers aboard the vessel, which has been streaming live footage. The moment of discovery, complete with the scientists' comments and a curious crab, was captured in full on video:

As the video shows, the colorful orb was sucked into the vessel. Shortly thereafter, Nautilus Live shared via social media that the find was collected from the Arguello Canyon near the NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

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"After sampling," the statement reads, "it began to unfold to reveal two distinct lobes. This may be a new species of nudibranch, or sea slug."

Several hours later, this update was posted: "We're still working on a species ID with our science partners, but currently we're thinking the purple orb is a pleurobranch, a nudibranch relative."

Pleurobranchs are a type of sea slug that have a prominent outer covering called a mantle and an internal shell that reduces, or is entirely lost, in adults. Pleurobranchs often visually stand out from the substrate.

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As researchers further analyze the still mysterious orb, Nautilus has continued its exploration of waters off the southern California coast. A short while ago, the scientists posted the following image saying: "From mysterious purple orbs to this crinoid on a column of whelk snail eggs, we never know what we'll find on the deep sea floor!"

Crinoids are marine animals that have been around for about 450 million years, putting their earliest days ahead of dinosaurs. They are referred to as living fossils since their basic anatomy has not noticeably changed much over the years.