WASHINGTON – A golden egg, or an alien, on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean?
American scientists have discovered a mysterious dome-shaped specimen deep on the Alaskan sea floor, but nobody knows for sure what it is.
Ocean researchers using a remotely operated survey vehicle were amazed in August when they spotted the strange item on a rock about 3,300m deep in the Gulf of Alaska.
It is more than 10cm in diameter and had a small tear near its base.
“As cameras zoomed in, scientists were stumped as to its identification, with initial thoughts ranging from a dead sponge attachment, to coral, to an egg casing,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said in a statement.
“Invoking almost fairy tale-like imagery, the specimen has since been dubbed a ‘golden orb’ and even a ‘golden egg’,” the agency added.
“Isn’t the deep sea so delightfully strange?” wondered Mr Sam Candio, an NOAA Ocean Exploration coordinator.
As theories swirled on social media, including that of it being an alien egg, scientists extracted their Aug 30 discovery from the ocean floor to analyse it in a laboratory setting.
“While we were able to collect the ‘golden orb’ and bring it onto the ship, we still are not able to identify it beyond the fact that it is biological in origin,” NOAA said.
It remains unclear if the golden dome is associated with a known or new species, or it represents an unknown life stage of an existing one, according to Mr Candio.
“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 added.
The dive was part of an expedition in the Gulf of Alaska to explore deep-water habitats. AFP
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