The unusual discovery of three large squid egg structures in the same area of ​​Mallorca triggers speculation and arouses the interest of scientists. “We have never seen anything like this, we were astonished,” says the first Spanish diver to document a

Sight in Mallorca the mysterious ‘living spheres’ of the sea | THE WORLDTHE WORLD (Video) // JOS CORONEL (Photo)

Updated Monday, May 31, 2021 –

August thirteenth, 2018. Monday. A 12-meter long inflatable boat docks in the port of Santa Pona, west of Mallorca. He has on board a team of divers with long experience and hundreds of dives in their tanks. They know these waters to the millimeter. They have been submerging all morning next to one of the most imposing islets on the Mallorcan coast, Sa Dragonera, a rocky mask with a 360-meter peak and bottoms that drop steeply to more than 60 meters deep. Mythical refuge for smugglers, ecological sanctuary, inspiration of marine legends.

That morning the water in the chasms on the northwest face of the islet was exactly 16.5 degrees. But the temperature of the sea did not matter: when they reached port, the divers’ blood boils with excitement.

They have just seen something mysterious for the first time, a gelatinous sphere one and a half meters in diameter floating on the seabed at a depth of 48 meters. Rocked by the current, translucent, majestic: as if it were an alien being, a science fiction entity.

They have taken pictures of him with a GoPro 6 camera. When they arrive at port they show the images, but neither the divers nor any of the experienced sailors and biologists who pass through the docks that day can say what the hell that is. No one has ever seen it.

“We had never seen something like this, I had no idea what it was but my impression was that it had been produced by something alive,” says Jos Coronel, the leader of that diving expedition and the first person who, without knowing it, that The discovery of a ‘living sphere’ was carried out and documented in the Spanish Mediterranean, an unusual phenomenon and still remarkably unknown to this day, also for science.

In the past 36 years, only 90 sightings have been reported across the planet, most in the North Sea and only a handful in Mediterranean waters. However, and strikingly, in recent months there have been two other sightings in Mallorca (one of them in the same area of ​​Sa Dragonera), which has triggered speculation among seafarers and has attracted the interest of the international scientific community, led by Norwegian biologists, the most advanced in the study of these unusual underwater spheres.

Leg squid

Despite the aura of mystery, scientific reports indicate that the living spheres are produced by a curiously very common animal in these waters, an insultingly popular species: the squid. Illex coindetti, the lifelong cuttlefish squid, also called southern short-finned squid. These gelatinous spheres are actually a container with a hundred thousand squid eggs. They are like large floating placentas that travel to the heavens with the ocean currents and protect the young from predators, preventing dispersal.

And then, why don’t they see each other more ?, they wonder in the ports of the Islands, where the proliferation of these spheres is generating all kinds of speculations, especially after the matter jumped to the pages of the reference publication in the marine world of the Balearic Islands, Nutica Gazette.

Halldis Ringvold, researcher at Sea Snack Norway and world specialist in the field, attends EL MUNDO from the north of Norway. “It is difficult to say why so few are seen (relatively speaking), we believe that squid produce many more spheres than we can see but that they are displaced to areas that we rarely reach.” Or maybe because the sunsets usually occur in deeper waters, that unknown abyssal world.

It is difficult to say why so few are seen (relatively speaking), we believe that squids produce many more spheres than we can see but that they are displaced to areas that we rarely reach.

Halldis Ringvold, investigator of Sea Snack Norway

And how is it possible that three of the sightings were concentrated in Mallorca? “It is also something difficult to answer,” admits this prestigious Scandinavian scientist, who has just published a pioneering report in the renowned magazine Nature, based on his studies and valuable sightings such as Coronel’s.

“It could be due to variations in where the squid are choosing to lay their eggs,” he says. Although it could also be because with social networks more and more divers are on the alert. As Colonel or as the diving instructor Luuk Morel, the last to spot such a sphere on May 12 in Majorcan waters. In his case, only 17 meters deep.

Chance is something inescapable in an environment as vast as the sea. “A few days before I had been diving in the area and I had seen a luminescent anemone 60 meters under water, like a very powerful lighthouse at the bottom of the sea,” explains Coronel, 62, author of a diving blog, architect profession and diver by vocation. “Since I didn’t have a camera, I decided to come back the following week to take pictures of him.”

Detail of one of the spherical structuresJOS CORONEL

In that second dive he did not locate the anemone, but chance rewarded him with something better. “I saw that suspended sphere and I was dumbfounded.” Inside you can see a tubular structure. It seemed “as if there was something trapped inside”. Colonel touched her lightly but did not want to catch her or interfere further. “We never do, we prioritize preservation.” However, that would have been a good option for science: three years later, scientists still have no samples of genetic material from these spheres in the Mediterranean.

For now, heNorwegian scientists have been able to collect and genetically analyze four complete samples of living spheres. All of them in the North Sea but none in the Mediterranean. For this reason, they have appealed to the diving community to help them collect a small sample and thus be able to carry out DNA tests. Only then can it be fully confirmed that it is the same form of life that they have already cataloged in their laboratory. Until then, keep floating a certain spherical mystery at the bottom of the Mediterranean.

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