A strange, undulating blob found in the waters of Ørstafjorden in Norway has turned out to be a rare sight: a giant mass of squid eggs.
The otherworldly ball, floating mysteriously in the darkness of the fjord, was discovered by captain Nils Baadnes and diver Ronald Raasch with the research vessel REV Ocean. It wasn’t long before they learnt what it was.
“[It] is actually an eggmass of 10-armed #squid!” reads a tweet on the vessel’s official Twitter account.
It’s not known how squids produce these egg masses, but they are fascinating things: giant masses of mucus, sometimes metres across, inside which tens of thousands of eggs can be incubating. It’s thought that the female lays a smaller mass that expands on contact with the water.
Different squids seem to produce different shapes of egg masses. For instance, the egg mass of the diamondback squid (Thysanoteuthis rhombus), found globally in tropical and subtropical waters, resembles a long tube of mucus with strings of eggs wrapped around it, like a slinky containing up to 43,800 eggs.
Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) egg masses, on the other hand, are more like a transparent blob, as is that of Gould’s squid (Nototodarus gouldi), the Japanese flying squid (Todarodes pacificus), and the neon flying squid (Ommastrephes bartramii), one of which measuring 4 metres (13 feet) across was filmed by National Geographic in 2015.