Whale watchers cruising off the coast of Hawaii came across something that looked like a giant, used tissue floating in the water this month. But you wouldn’t want to blow your nose into this wet blob — according to the Pacific Whale Foundation, the goopy mass of floating white matter was a placenta, likely belonging to a humpback whale.
That’s a big deal, according to the foundation, because although scientists have long assumed that humpbacks travel to Hawaiian waters to give birth, no such birth has ever been definitively documented. (Whale Trust, another Hawaiian conservation and research group, confirms that claim.)
It’s not entirely clear where or when the foundation’s boat, called Ocean Journey, came across the placenta. The organization said the time, place and circumstances “surrounding the discovery are still being determined,” but in a Facebook post, the group later suggested the discovery happened on the first whalewatch of the day on Saturday — apparently referring to Feb. 10. [In Photos: Tracking Humpback Whales]