'Mysterious' Blob Washes Ashore in North Carolina and Baffles Experts

Mysterious Blob in NC
The mysterious blob washed ashore in North Carolina, baffling experts for months. Cape Lookout National Seashore/Facebook

Can you identify a blob-shaped mass with clear, tentacle-like sacs and white polka dots that turned up at a beach? The question had even experts stumped for months.

According to Tuesday's Facebook post from Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina, the blob washed ashore late last year and had confounded experts ever since.

In the post, Cape Lookout said that the "mysterious" mass "has escaped being identified," but they suspected "it might be something like the egg sacks of a squid."

"Anyone want to take a stab at identifying it for us?" they asked.

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The question sparked fierce discussion in the comments section. Some jokingly said the mass looked like "an old mop head" or like "a few pairs of gloves that something laid eggs in," while others remarked that they "have never seen anything like [it]."

However, the park experts' initial guess—backed by dozens of commenters—was correct. The bizarre mass was, in fact, the "egg mass" of several squids.

"Beach mystery UPDATE," Cape Lookout said in the Facebook post. "It's been identified! As many of you suspected, it is an egg mass of a squid, or actually the eggs of many squids as they lay their eggs together to create the mass."

They added: "These squid are an inshore squid species, which belong to the same scientific family, Loliginidae, as the California Market Squid of the Pacific Coast and a number of European squids. They all lay similar looking egg masses."

Cape Lookout's post indicated that "off the North Carolina Coast, there are three species from the Loliginidae squid family" that "could have laid the egg mass that showed up on our beach": Lolliguncula brevis, Doryteuthis pealeii, or Doryteuthis plei.

Cape Lookout also sent a big message of gratitude to everyone who contributed to the search.

"To all the sleuths who donated their time to help us search for an answer along with our two squid experts, Lou Zeidberg and Michael Vecchione, who stopped by and shared their knowledge with us. THANK YOU!!"

Of the three squid species, Live Science said the eggs most likely belonged to Lolliguncula brevis, or the Atlantic brief squid, according to two biologists they spoke with. The small species makes its home in estuaries and inlets along North and South America's Atlantic coast.

While these semi-translucent globs are formally known as "egg masses," researchers also refer to them as "mops," said Live Science, due to their unique, finger-shaped sacs.