A gruesome squirming sea creature has been branded The Blob, like the 1958 movie monster, after experts challenged the public to identify it.
The jelly-like being was found by Holly Grand from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department during a routine survey of the marine life in Nighthawk Bay.
Recognising the creature’s enigmatic appearance was likely to capture the public imagination, the department then challenged their online followers to identify it from a short video.
"The most common guess on social media was The Blob, with a few guesses that were correct," said spokeswoman Julie Hagen.
Others compared it to a creature from the TV series, Stranger Things, while some only expressed disgust.
"This would scar me for life if I just randomly found one," said one viewer
However, despite its unusual appearance, the creature is not actually unusual within the area – it’s a type of sea hare.
"As crazy as these sea hares may appear, they are not particularly rare or special and they’re definitely not dangerous in any way," said Julie.
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"There are a couple of species of sea hare present in Texas bays – they can live in most shallow water, and temperate or tropical climates if there is an abundance of algae."
She continued: "This sea hare was found and recorded by our biologists and then returned to the water. We return all organisms to the water after they have been recorded.
"The data is then combined with other similar data points and used to help us make fisheries management decisions."
And while the creature’s appearance may have turned a few stomachs, Julie says it’s proved a great way to spark public curiosity about the natural world.
"We tend to get the most engagement when we highlight saltwater species that most people are not familiar with,” she said.
"This helps to educate but also to entertain the public."
The Blob, which featured Steve McQueen in his first starring role, told the story of an amorphous alien that crashes to Earth and devours the residents of two small towns, growing larger and larger.
Sea hares, however, are more prey than predator.
They are usually found feeding on seaweed at shallow depths, and often use their camouflage to avoid predators, sometimes releasing a cloud of ink if they need to escape.
Nighthawk Bay, where this specimen was found, is part of the Laguna Madre – one of just six hypersaline bays in the world, meaning its waters are saltier than those of the ocean.
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