The mystery surrounding the discovery of a bizarre, tube-like mass off the coast of Australia appears to have been solved.
Earlier this month, Jay Winks, owner and operator of Abc Scuba Diving Port Douglas, posted photographs to Facebook of the strange encounter he'd had with the unidentified mass.
"Can anyone name the pink thing?" he wrote. "It was around 3 metres long and 100mm in diameter....."
The photo of the unusual sighting quickly went viral, with many weighing in that the tube was likely a worm-like marine species called a pyrosome. These colonies of individual creatures called zooids, also nicknamed "the unicorn of the sea" because of their rarity, can sometimes reach lengths of more than 60 feet.
Jay Winks photographed this bizarre pink tube while diving off the coast of Australia. (Photo: Jay Winks/Abc Scuba Diving Port Douglas)
As it turns out, Winks discovered something even rarer. Upon closer examination, it was determined that the glowing pink mass was not a creature at all, but one giant egg sack.
According to Rebecca Helm, a jellyfish biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, the bright pink dots arranged in lines around the tube are actually the eggs of the diamond squid.
"These egg masses are incredibly rare," Helm said in a 2015 blog post on another egg sack sighting. "If I were there, I would have been screaming with joy through my regulator. I hope the divers know what a lucky sighting this was."
You can see video of that encounter below.
Marine scientists estimate that these egg sacks could contain anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 baby squid. Despite a lifespan of only a year, the baby squid can quickly reach lengths of three feet or more.