Though the mere mention of a giant ball full of squid babies might conjure visions from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, it appears swimming next to an actual sac full of squid babies looks surprisingly peaceful.
Of course, as one YouTube commenter points out, you change the backing track on Ronald Raasch’s video below — showing divers cozying up to a gelatinous blob full of 10-armed squid babies — and you get a much different vibe. Like imagine hearing the theme to Jaws while watching this …
No, that’s not The Blob suddenly finding its gloopy footing again underwater, but a “huge transparent egg sac containing hundreds of thousands of baby squid,” according to the Caters News video description.
The stunning underwater video was filmed by Raasch while diving in the frigid waters near Ørsta, Norway, along with two others from the research vessel REV Ocean. They ran into the super sac on Oct. 5, on their way back from exploring a World War II shipwreck about 200 meters (650 feet) off shore.
Can you imagine swimming around just 17 metres (55 feet) below the surface, 15 meters above the ocean floor, and running into something so large, so transparent, so orb-ish, with a dark mass in the middle packed with 10-armed squid eggs? It’s certainly something you don’t see at your average aquarium.
That said, while rare, encountering such a sight isn’t unheard of. Apparently they're known as a "blekksprutgeleball" — or "squid gel ball," per LiveScience. And they’ve been studied for quite some time, with similar sightings around Norway, Spain, France, and Italy, some going back as many as 30 years, according to Halldis Ringvold, a researcher with Sea Snack Norway and the project leader for "Huge Spheres," which studies just that.
Ringvold tells LiveScience that they took DNA samples from four similar-looking blobs off the Mediterranean and Norwegian coasts in 2017, confirming them as sacs from the “southern shortfin squid (Illex coindetii), a 10-armed cephalopod found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.” And while this sac would appear to be bigger than the average three-meter variety, Ringvold assumes this one was also made by Illex coindetii.
Per international marine life database SeaLifeBase (via LiveScience), females hatch between 50,000 and 200,000 eggs that grow to about 0.07 inches around when the embryo is fully developed, which usually takes 10 to 14 days in 59-degree Fahrenheit water.
While such a sac of giant squid might pose a nightmare scenario (particularly for all you sperm whales out there), the Illex coindetii are much smaller, with the largest measuring a mere 15 inches, according to Wikipedia. So go back to swimming in peace.
(via Caters Clips)