Science and TechAnimals and Insects


Scientists discover unidentified golden organism off Alaskan coast

Scientists discovered an unidentified golden orb-like organism in the deep sea off the coast of Alaska.
Posted at 9:24 PM, Sep 08, 2023

Scientists searching the deep sea came across an unexpected golden specimen sitting on the ocean's rocky floor.

It appeared as a smooth, dome-shaped organism, with one of the NOAA Ocean Exploration Team members referring to it as a "yellow hat" among the scattered white sponges.

The team came across the 4-inch specimen on Aug. 30 as part of its 2023 Seascape Alaska Expedition, which aims to map and explore deepwater ecosystems in the Gulf of Alaska using remotely operated vehicles.

Using the remote deep-sea vessel's camera, the team tried to identify the golden specimen, "with initial thoughts ranging from a dead sponge attachment, to coral, to an egg casing," an update from the team said.

Footage from the expedition shows the vessel's arm nudging the organism, with a team member saying, "I just hope when we poke it something doesn't decide to come out. It's like the beginning of a horror movie." Another says, "I'm pretty sure this is how the first episode of 'The X-Files' started."

The team noted it seemed delicate, as if it would fall apart upon the vessel's arm touching it, but they were able to use a suction sampler to capture it.

NOAA Ocean Exploration, Seascape Alaska

The team still hasn't been able to identify what the organism actually is, "beyond the fact that it is biological in origin," Sam Candido, Seascape Alaska Expedition coordinator said.

Candido said they likely won't learn more about the specimen until they can get it into a laboratory and pull from other scientists' expertise.

"While somewhat humbling to be stumped by this finding, it serves as a reminder of how little we know about our own planet and how much is left to learn and appreciate about our ocean," he said.

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