Scientists aboard the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer recently made a fascinating discovery in the deep sea. Using a remote camera, they observed a mysterious “golden orb” attached to a rock outcropping in waters off the coast of Alaska. The golden orb, about four inches in diameter, was found at a depth of 2 miles. It was retrieved using a robotic arm and vacuum-powered sample tube and is now headed to a lab for further testing.
Despite their best efforts, scientists are still unable to identify the origin of the golden orb beyond the fact that it is biological in nature. A small hole or tear near its base suggests that something may have left or entered the orb. The discovery has sparked excitement and speculation among the scientific community, with some comparing it to the beginning of a horror movie.
The NOAA’s ongoing Seascape Alaska 5 expedition aims to map and explore deepwater habitats in unexplored regions off Alaska. While the primary goal is to explore depths greater than 656 feet, some dives will descend as far as 4 miles beneath the surface. The researchers are particularly interested in studying deep-sea coral and sponge habitats, fish habitats, chemosynthetic communities, and the water column. The mission also seeks to improve understanding of past and potential geohazards.
The discovery of the golden orb highlights the importance of ocean exploration. While it is still unclear if the orb is associated with a known or new species, it has the potential to reveal new sources for medical therapies, vaccines, food, energy, and other societal benefits. The data and information gathered during the expedition will help close gaps in our understanding of the deep sea and contribute to better management and protection of this important ecosystem.
Source: NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)