Over the past 15 years or so, several giant gel balls have been found by divers off the coast of Norway. The balls, about 3 feet (1 meter) wide, remain a mystery to scientists. But the number of ball sightings has been increasing.

Professor Gro van der Meeren at the Institute of Marine Research in Nordnes, Norway, is one of the lead researchers trying to gather more information about the balls. Due to recent attention in local media, van der Meeren has received more photos of the balls from divers.

A gel ball found by diver Rudolf Svensen in Norway. (Rudolf Svensen)
A gel ball found by diver Rudolf Svensen in Norway. (Rudolf Svensen)

“Thanks to the media sharing our puzzlement over what these gel balls may be, we have now received observations within Norway of close to 20 of these balls, half of the observations within 2017 and all between May and October,” she said via email. “Unfortunately, no one has sent us actual tissue samples.”

The best guess is that it’s a giant squid egg, but there are problems with that theory.

A giant squid. (Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera/National Science Museum, Tokyo)
A giant squid. (Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera/National Science Museum, Tokyo)

DNA tests could be the key to understanding what they are. Van der Meeren hypothesizes that they are squid eggs, since they look similar to squid eggs, but she is not certain and scientists haven’t agreed on this hypothesis. The balls are big for squid eggs. Giant squids live deep in the ocean, whereas these balls have been found along the coast.

It is hard to identify what kind of squid could have left such balls. Van der Meeren said she would need tissue samples to compare to known DNA-profiles of European squids.

A hypothesis that’s floated around Internet forums is that they’re alien eggs.

Two similar balls have been observed off the coast of Sweden and Alaska respectively. Anyone who sees such a ball should obtain a tissue sample if possible and contact van der Meeren: grom@imr.no.

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Categories: Mysteries Science