A massive metal orb that recently washed ashore in Japan, prompting investigations by bomb disposal squads and leading to intense speculation online, may have finally been identified.
The 1.5-meter sphere, which came to public attention on Tuesday after it was discovered on Enshuhama Beach near the city of Hamamatsu, was initially suspected of possibly having been an explosive device.
Japanese authorities cordoned off the area around the object as a precaution, but it was determined that the mystery sphere was not an explosive after it was examined by police using X-ray equipment and found to be hollow.
The question remained, however, as to what its purpose might have been.
Now, the object seems to have been identified as a mooring buoy thanks to the efforts of one online commenter, who pointed to a metal handle visible in photos online depicting certain angles of the mystery sphere.
Weighing more than standard buoys, mooring buoys are used in certain regions of the ocean as mooring points for sailing vessels. Attached to the mooring buoys are weights that rest on the ocean floor, anchoring the floating buoys to a central location.
It’s a steel mooring buoy. They are specially designed for the mooring of vessels in the most economical way while protecting shorelines, natural habitats & other boats by giving those sailing or stationed an alternative anchoring point for all types of vessels. pic.twitter.com/PBU4l1anvJ
“They are specially designed for the mooring of vessels in the most economical way,” said Twitter user Jeremiah Garcia, “while protecting shorelines, natural habitats & other boats by giving those sailing or stationed an alternative anchoring point for all types of vessels.”
The searches for those objects, one of which had been undertaken off the northeastern Alaska coast and hampered continually by arctic weather conditions, were called off over the weekend.
Although no wreckage or debris that would have helped identify the objects was located, the White House has said they were most likely commercial or meteorological devices, while some hobbyist groups have said they think the objects might have been balloons fitted with small radio transmitters they had launched in recent days.
Apart from speculations being shared on social media and elsewhere online, the objects shot down over the U.S. and Canada in recent days had no relationship to the suspected mooring buoy recovered near Hamamatsu on Tuesday.