Scientists Have Found a Weird Purple Orb on the California Seafloor

From scampering octopuses to disco clams, marine biologists have gotten pretty good at parsing all the absurdity the ocean has to offer. Which is why we’re so delighted by the above video from the Nautilus Exploration Program, in which seasoned scientists greet the sight of a luminous purple blob with “What is that?!” 

The Ocean Exploration Trust’s Nautilus research vessel has just wrapped up a trip to California’s Channel Islands, an area commonly known as the Galapagos of the North for its remote location and ecological richness. The islands are part of a national marine sanctuary, yet very little is known about the topography of the surrounding seafloor, how the region is weathering climate change, or the creatures who live there. 

Case in point: the purple thing. The vessel’s cameras zoomed in on the unidentified object, which seemed to be made of two distinct pieces. But even at close range, the blob was no more willing to reveal its secrets. The researchers aboard began to throw out guesses: “It looks like an egg sac of some sort.” “I reckon its some kind of cnidarian?” “It looks like a disco ball.” “I’m stumped. I couldn’t even hazard a guess.” 

While there was some dramatic tension when it seemed that a curious crab might snatch the mystery orb before the team could collect it with a vacuum tube on a robotic arm, in the end they successfully hoovered it up. The crew turned the gummy candy–looking thing over to experts at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. At the moment, their best guess is that it’s a type of knobbly, globular sea slug called a pleurobranch, but they’re still far from certain. 

[h/t Smithsonian]

Header image from YouTube // EVNautilus

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You’re Probably Not Cleaning Your Dog’s Leash—But Here’s Why You Should Be

Tim Graham, Getty Images
Tim Graham, Getty Images

There are several items you use every day that you probably aren't cleaning enough, like your phone, your water bottle, and your pajamas. If you're a dog owner, there may be one especially filthy object in your home that you don't clean at all: your pet's leash. According to Reader's Digest, leashes get dirty fast, and if you can't remember the last time you cleaned yours, it's definitely due to be sanitized.

Leashes are just as easily soiled as anything you touch on a regular basis. Constant use causes microbes and oils from your hands to build up on the handle. And chances are, the leash is also covered with your dog's own germs, fur, and saliva, as well as mud and dirt from the outside world. This adds up to create a cocktail of nastiness on the leash that's hanging beside your front door.

The quickest way to gauge if your leash needs to be cleaned is to look at it. Is it covered with hair and splattered with mud? If yes, it should definitely be taken care of before your dog's next walk. But even a relatively neat looking leash should be cleaned about once a month. For rope and nylon leashes, let it soak in hot soapy water for 10 minutes before rinsing it and hanging it to dry. Scrubbing with a soft nylon brush may be necessary for tougher messes like stains and caked-on grime. Some leashes can also be safely cleaned in the washing machine in a delicates bag. If your dog's leash gets dirty quickly, you may want to invest in a few extras so you aren't constantly washing the one you have.

If you're looking for cleaning projects, disinfecting the items around your home that you've been neglecting is an excellent time-killer. From pillows to shower heads, here's how often you should be washing common household items.

[h/t Reader's Digest]

Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Site in Pennsylvania Amish Country Accommodates Horses and Buggies

William Thomas Cain/Stringer/Getty Images
William Thomas Cain/Stringer/Getty Images

One way coronavirus testing centers can encourage social distancing is by testing patients in their vehicles. In Pennsylvania's Amish Country, that includes horses and buggies as well as cars. As CNN reports, a small clinic is accommodating the old-school transportation method in an effort to make tests more accessible to Amish and Mennonite communities.

Most residents of Belleville, Pennsylvania, are Amish or Mennonite—two groups that are uniquely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their cautious approach to technology can result in lower news consumption, which may leave people ill-informed about a crisis that's changing by the day.

Both communities are also tight-knit: a benefit in most times of hardship, but a recipe for tragedy during a pandemic. "When they have church, they have 300 people crowded together in a little farmhouse. From the point of view of an infection like this, this is a disaster," Dr. D. Holmes Morton, founder and medical director of the Central Pennsylvania Clinic in Belleville, told CNN.

Many Amish and Mennonite meetings and church services have been suspended indefinitely, but social distancing is just one part of keeping the communities safe. Testing is also essential to containing the virus, and the Central Pennsylvania Clinic aims to make its tests available to as many people as possible. As one of the few coronavirus testing sites in the area, they're working to test asymptotic patients as well as those who are feeling sick. Research suggests that up to 50 percent of novel coronavirus carriers show no symptoms.

The clinic is not just accommodating Amish and Mennonite patients, but also how they see them. Residents are able to roll up in their horses and buggies and get tested without stepping into the clinic. At least 65 people have used the drive-through (or ride-through) clinic since it opened on April 1.

[h/t CNN]