The as-of-yet unidentified purple orb could represent a previously unknown type of egg sac or a new species, according to researchers aboard the vessel, which has been streaming live footage. The moment of discovery, complete with the scientists' comments and a curious crab, was captured in full on video:
"After sampling," the statement reads, "it began to unfold to reveal two distinct lobes. This may be a new species of nudibranch, or sea slug."
Several hours later, this update was posted: "We're still working on a species ID with our science partners, but currently we're thinking the purple orb is a pleurobranch, a nudibranch relative."
Pleurobranchs are a type of sea slug that have a prominent outer covering called a mantle and an internal shell that reduces, or is entirely lost, in adults. Pleurobranchs often visually stand out from the substrate.
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