Mystery "golden egg" found in the ocean stumps divers and social media

Gulf of Alaska – Is it a golden egg, or an maybe an alien, on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean?

A "golden egg" or "golden orb" found off the coast of Alaska has puzzled scientists and social media alike.
A "golden egg" or "golden orb" found off the coast of Alaska has puzzled scientists and social media alike.  © Courtesy: NOAA Ocean Exploration, Seascape Alaska

American scientists have discovered a mysterious dome-shaped specimen deep on the Alaskan seafloor, but nobody knows for sure what it is.

Ocean researchers using a remotely operated survey vehicle were amazed last week when they spotted the strange item on a rock about two miles deep in the Gulf of Alaska.

It is over 4 inches in diameter and had a small tear near its base.

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"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 said in a statement.

"Invoking almost fairytale-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 Sam Candio, an NOAA Ocean Exploration coordinator.

What is the "golden egg" found in the ocean?

Researchers used a remotely operated survey vehicle to spot and recover the strange item on a rock in the Gulf of Alaska.
Researchers used a remotely operated survey vehicle to spot and recover the strange item on a rock in the Gulf of Alaska.  © Courtesy: NOAA Ocean Exploration, Seascape Alaska

As theories swirled on social media, including that of it being an alien egg, scientists extracted their August 30 discovery from the ocean floor to analyze 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 species, a new species, or represents an unknown life stage of an existing one, according to Candio.

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"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 deepwater habitats.

The "golden egg" is being studied in a lab.
The "golden egg" is being studied in a lab.  © Courtesy: NOAA Ocean Exploration, Seascape Alaska

Stay golden!

Cover photo: Courtesy: NOAA Ocean Exploration, Seascape Alaska

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