One of the strangest creatures in the world, with an extremely strange name that surprises many people, is Valonia ventricosa algae – the largest single-celled organism on Earth.
This species of algae is also jokingly called “sailor’s eyeball” by miners. Its mass and size depend on the vacuole’s contents – the space inside the cell wall of the algae.
V. ventricosa is unicellular, but it can contain the nuclei of many cells; this is because they are coenocytic organisms, they are made up of a mass of cytoplasm containing many cell nuclei not separated by a cell wall planing. According to a Science Alert report, rupturing this single-celled species can cause more V. ventricosa to multiply because they only need one cell nucleus to develop into a new organism.
The sometimes extensive cytoplasm contains nuclei organized into lobes radiating from its center, creating an internal structure that the New Paradise Reef Conservation Program describes as something like the Tesla plasma ball.
Sailors’ eyeballs are often discovered by divers drifting through coral reefs in tropical and subtropical regions of the world’s oceans. They can vary in color from bright green to black and are sometimes very silvery due to the unique structure of the cellulose crystals in the cell walls.
The shimmering colors are reminiscent of NOAA Ocean Exploration’s “golden egg” mystery when they found a shiny, alien-like orb on the bottom of the Alaskan sea. The shiny spot was discovered at a depth of 3.1 km (2 miles), anchored to the rock surface.
Valonia ventricosa has been particularly studied because the cells are unusually large, so they provide a convenient target for studying the transport of water and water-soluble molecules across biological membranes. It is concluded that the permeability properties in both osmosis and diffusion are identical and that urea and formaldehyde molecules do not require any type of water-filled pores in the membrane to move through it.
In studying the cellulose lattice and orientation of this alga in biological structures, Valonia ventricosa was subjected to extensive X-ray analytical procedures, and it was also studied for its potential electrical properties unusually high compared to the surrounding sea level.