Shipwrecks, colossal creatures, and unknown species can all be discovered while fishing in the water. An unnamed monster swooshed past an OceanX expedition in 2020 as they were studying a surprising find: the Pella, a ferry that drowned after catching fire in 2011. A remote-operated vehicle (ROV) belonging to the maritime research group discovered the amazing scene. The year was 2020, and the OceanXplorer research ship was on its way to map the northern Red Sea’s seafloor. They were able to establish the lay of the land using onboard equipment, but they came upon a 100-meter (328-foot) long bulge on the seafloor.
They sent the ROV to investigate, unsure if they were looking at coral, a large rock, or something more interesting, and sure enough, the sunken Pella was there. Just as it looked like things could not get much more exciting, in swooshed what appeared to be a massive squid, which rushed towards the ROV before scurrying away. While identifying the Pellas’ remains was simple enough, solving the many-legged mystery that paid them a visit proved more complicated. Fortunately, the strange squid appeared in each of the ROV’s three excursions to the wreck, however, it is possible that the appearances were the result of many animals.
With their footage, the team behind the discovery sought the help of invertebrate zoologist Michael Vecchione of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington to settle the debate. He had an answer, to their joy. “The gigantic purple back photobombed us,” Mattie Rodrigue, OceanX’s science program lead, told Live Science. Sthenoteuthis oualaniensis, you’ve been rumbled.
Purple back flying squids can be found in the Pacific and Indian oceans, and larger ones have a bright yellow light organ that can see. They range in size from miniature to huge, with this one falling in to the latter group at roughly 2-meters (6-feet) in length. They prefer the open ocean and will dive to depths of around 1,000 meters (3,281 feet), returning to the surface at night to feed. While the high number of sightings at the Pella could indicate that they are shipwreck aficionados, there is little evidence to support this. Shipwrecks, on the other hand, may bring all of the purpleback flying squids to the yard, as these locations frequently attract an invasion of fish.