A picture has surfaced online showing one of the weirdest and most wonderful creatures the ocean has to offer. It’s taken the internet by storm with thousands commenting that it’s a real-life Pokemon. But it appears no one can actually decide what the little critter is. While some argue it’s a sea pickle, others have claimed it’s a vampire squid. Who’s right?
Let’s call him Sea Ghost
The picture of little creature exploded across the web when a contributor posted the picture on Reddit. It’s since received 27.3K upvotes (at time of publishing) and over 800 comments from people trying to guess what the animal is. But this is where the confusion started. The contributor wrote: “This is a ‘sea pickle’—a blob of pyrosomes that live in the ocean. This one was caught off the east Australian coast.”
People then began sharing it as such.
This is a 'sea pickle' – a blob of pyrosomes that live in the ocean. This one was caught off the east Australian coast. (Via PumpyChowdown/Reddit)
What’s a sea pickle?
A sea pickle is a common name for a pyrosome. These tubular beings are actually made up of hundreds or thousands of animals called zooids and they can grow to the size of a sperm whale. This past summer Australia and West Coast US has experienced an influx of pyrosomes with millions swarming the coastal waters. So you can understand why this creature may have been categorized as such.
But the main problem with this is that pyrosomes are usually long tubular beings. Sea Ghost has what appears to be little tentacles and ‘arms’. After a little digging, we found this image was originally posted by The Nereus Program, a global initiative created to help achieve sustainability for the world’s oceans. Amy Rose Coghlan, the scientist who captured the photo, categorises it as an ‘octopus’.
Commentors on the article then went on to suggest it’s a juvenile vampire squid, “judging by the glowing eye-spots and shape of tentacles.”
This little guy was caught off the east Australian coast by the researchers on the RV Investigator. It's a vampire squid…
The vampire squid is a small cephalopod, technically not a squid, that lives in the deep ocean. It’s thought they have barely changed since they first appeared around 300 million years ago. When fully grown, they are a rusty red colour and are able to turn themselves “inside out” to avoid predators.
There is little information about these creatures as juveniles and so it’s hard to confirm or deny whether Sea Ghost truly is a vampire squid or not. For now, that’s our best assumption. It’s surprisingly cute whatever it is.
For another amazing creature, check out this sea slug that eats so much algae it can ‘photosynthesize’. It looks like a sea sheep!