Scientists of Florida are currently examining a mysterious eye the size of a softball that washed ashore on Pompano Beach this week. While test results are not ready, some wildlife officials have suggested that the mysterious eye belonged to a large swordfish.
The man who made the discovery said he was walking along the beach when he noticed the object amid the seaweed and detritus from the sea. He put the eyeball in a plastic bag and contacted police which later gave the find the scientists.
“Experts on site and remotely have viewed and analyzed the eye, and based on its color, size and structure, along with the presence of bone around it, we believe the eye came from a swordfish,” said Joan Herrera, curator of collections at the institute.
However, there’s one more question which must be answered: how the discvery got into the water. The Florida scientists have a theory on that as well.
“Based on straight-line cuts visible around the eye, we believe it was removed by a fisherman and discarded,” Herrera said in a posting on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website.
Officials suggest that, judging by the blue color and size of the eyeball, it might come from a swordfish – a variety that is a favorite of fishing enthusiasts this time of the year in the waters off South Florida.
Marine scientist Heather Bracken-Grissom, of Florida International University in Miami, told reporters that the shape of the eye’s lens and pupil is similar to that of a giant squid, claims CBS News.
“The eyes of squids do dislodge quite easily during dissection,” Bracken-Grissom said in an email, adding that “it would be very rare for a fresh squid eyeball to wash ashore a Florida beach.”
Still, there are other experts who also saw a “fishier” explanation for the mysterious object.
“I have not seen a squid with blue eyes, but I am not an expert,” said Trevor Wardill, a research associate at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) at Woods Hole, Mass. “My guess is that it is from a vertebrate, as the iris is not fully open, but still very round.”
Eric Warrant, a vision scientist at the University of Lund in Sweden who has previously worked with swordfish eyes, said if the found object is not fake, it is almost certainly a swordfish.
“You usually don’t find random floating eyes of any animal,” said biologist Sonke Johnsen of Duke University. Johnsen explained that he might be wrong as he made a judgment basing on the photos but said, “I’m fairly sure it’s just the eye of a large xiphid, likely a swordfish or marlin.”
“They get seriously big, but people don’t realize it because most of the eye is inside the head,” he added.
“In the Atlantic Ocean swordfish can reach a whopping 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms), and at this time of year it’s common for fishers to catch them off the coast of south Florida”, says to the FWC. The agency revealed that in order to confirm the identification genetic testing will be done.