October 12, 2012
Huge Eyeball Found On Florida Beach: Squid or Swordfish?
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Finding artifacts washed ashore on beaches around the globe are fairly common occurrences. Finding marine animals and their body parts are just as common. However, when the body parts tend to be like what a Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Florida resident recently discovered, people may immediately get a queasy feeling building in the pit of their stomachs.
That´s because the body part, found by Gino Covacci as he was taking a morning stroll on the beach, was an eyeball; and not just any ordinary eyeball, but a huge peeper nearly the size of a softball.
Covacci said he noticed a ball-like object near the high tide line while on his walk. He said he kicked it over a few times before realizing he was staring at the biggest eyeball he had ever seen. He noted the find was distinctly dissimilar from the ordinary items he finds on the beach everyday--things like cigarette butts, seaweed and sea shells.
After realizing what he had found, he grabbed it up, threw it in a plastic bag, and then brought it home and put it in his refrigerator.
“It was very, very fresh,” Covacci told Sun Sentinel on Thursday. “It was still bleeding when I put it in the plastic bag.”
Covacci said he had notified a police officer, who instructed him to contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Carli Segelson, a spokeswoman for the FWC, told HuffPost's Christiana Lilly that the commission was very interested in the discovery.
“This is definitely an unusual situation, where an eye would be found independent of any other body part,” she said.
An employee of the FWC went to Covacci´s home in South Florida to pick up the bluish-colored eyeball and immediately put it on ice. The eyeball would then be preserved in formalin, a mixture of formaldehyde and water, before it is shipped to FWC´s St. Petersburg Fish and Wildlife Research Center.
Once the giant oculus arrives at St. Petersburg, staff members will try to make a positive identification. “It will probably take a little while to identify the eye,” Segelson said.
She noted that it is likely an eyeball from a marine animal, since it was found on the beach. A preliminary guess would be it´s that of a giant squid, or perhaps a large fish.
Until the FWC can get their hands on it, only assumptions can be made. Since the eyeball was said to be a fresh find, and still bleeding, it has to be assumed the animal came from the waters off South Florida.
While large fish, such as tuna, swordfish and sharks, are capable of having equally large eyes, FWC experts believe a giant squid is the likely candidate. Giant squids are known to develop large eyes to gather in what little light that reaches the depths where these animals are commonly found.
Charles Messing, a professor at Nova Southeastern University's Oceanographic Center, said he believes, based on his examinations of other photographs of various marine creatures, the eyeball belongs to a swordfish.
Swordfish are extremely common off South Florida, which supports an active commercial and recreational fishery, he added. But, he remarked, it could also be a giant squid eye.