Look Out! Mysterious Giant Eyeball Washes Up on Florida Coast

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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission / Flickr

Gino Covacci was strolling along Pompano Beach just outside Fort Lauderdale, Fla., when he eyed something the size of a softball washing up on the shore.The Florida resident was shocked to discover the object was actually a very large eye — and the entire  community, as well as a few scientists, is now guessing as to its origins.

The eye, which had been separated completely from the animal’s body, “was very, very fresh,” when Covacci picked it up, as he told the Sun Sentinel. “It was still bleeding when I put it in the plastic bag.”

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Covacci quickly reported the discovery to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which preserved the sample before turning it over to the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. The institute will now analyze the giant eyeball’s DNA to see if it can identify which animal it came from.

Though the eyeball has prompted plenty of speculation as to its origin – now may be a good time to revive those Loch Ness Monster theories – scientists believe the most likely source is from something a little less exotic, like a large fish or a deep-water species. Marine biologists suspect the owner of the eyeball is most likely a giant squid, tuna or even a swordfish.

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Carli Segelson, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told NBC News she was confident the institute would be able to solve the mystery of the specimen’s origins. “I shouldn’t say this,” she said, “but they may be able to eyeball it.”

Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.