When Lutfu Tanriover went on a deep-sea dive off the coast of Turkey in early July, he wasn't prepared for what he and his fellow divers encountered 72 feet below the surface: a gelatinous, see-through blob the size of a car that he nicknamed "The Thing," the Mother Nature Network reports. But Tanriover and his companions had no clue what the mass was, so they recorded it and uploaded it to YouTube—and a marine expert who saw the video thinks he has the answer, LiveScience notes. Dr. Michael Vecchione of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History says the blob looks to him to be a giant mass of squid eggs and that it's the largest he's ever seen, per Deep Sea News. "We don't know exactly how many eggs are in there," he tells LiveScience, but he adds they may number in the tens of thousands.
Vecchione says such egg masses are typically found further offshore and that the eggs usually hatch within three days, making this discovery a rare sighting, Deep Sea News notes. He thinks a red flying squid, described by LiveScience as a "voracious predator" that can reach almost 5 feet in length, is responsible for the 13-foot egg mass. A comparably sized squid-egg mass from a Humboldt squid was discovered off the coast of California in 2006 and held between 600,000 and 2 million eggs. One of the lead authors of that study explains that the mother squid lays a smaller jelly-like mound filled with eggs and that it grows in size as it takes on seawater, per National Geographic; she adds that this protective coating keeps predators and parasites away from the embryos, while the gradual expansion of the blob likely gives the babies room to grow. (A squid the size of a taxi was caught off the Louisiana coast a few years back.)