Mysterious golden orb discovered in Gulf of Alaska

Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 2:29 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have discovered an unidentified golden orb-like organism off the Gulf of Alaska during a Seascape Alaska expedition.

The Seascape Alaska expedition uses remotely operated vehicles to map and explore deep water ecosystems. While exploring a rocky outcrop at a depth of 2 miles, personnel aboard the deep sea diving vessel, Okeanos Explorer, discovered the unidentified golden orb off the Gulf coast of Alaska on August 30.

The orb is ‘biological in origin,’ according to NOAA scientists, but they don’t know what it is. Crew members are comparing their discovery to a horror movie scene or an X-Files TV episode.

The unidentified smooth gold specimen is approximately 4 inches in diameter and is dome-shaped. They hope to learn more in the lab.

“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,” said Sam Candio, the expedition coordinator for the ongoing Seascape Alaska expedition. “We likely won’t learn more until we are able to get it into a laboratory setting where we can continue to pull from the collective expertise of the scientific community with more sophisticated tools than we are able to maintain on the ship.”

Candio added, “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.”

For more information about the Seascape Alaska 5: Gulf of Alaska expeditions and the mysterious golden orb visit the NOAA Ocean Explorer website.