Strange and mysterious life forms discovered under the ice of Antarctica
Under half a mile of ice bottom of the worldin the dark and far out to sea, some extreme organisms seem to be doing well.
It was the unexpected discovery made during an exploratory study of an ice shelf in Antarctica.
“This discovery is one of those happy accidents that pushes ideas in a different direction and shows us that Antarctica’s marine life is incredibly special and surprisingly adapted to a frozen world,” he added. says biogeographer Huw Griffiths from the British Antarctic Survey.
Griffiths’ team accidentally came across what appear to be sponges and other filter-feeding animals attached to a submerged rock in the frigid depths of the southeast Weddell Sea.
Researchers drilled through 900 meters of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, located more than 160 miles from the open ocean. Yet despite being cut off from most light, heat, and sea, the big, weird creatures are all over a big rock.
“Our discovery raises so many more questions than it answers,” says Griffiths. “For example, how did they get there? species that we see outside the sea ice or are they new species? And what would happen to those communities if the sea ice collapsed?”
An article about the discovery was published in the journal Marine Science Frontiers.
The video embedded above shows a camera and light being lowered into a hole drilled in the ice. After a somewhat awkward collision with the rock, a number of large rod and sponge-like organisms are clearly visible.
Researchers believe this is the first such discovery and are calling for new Antarctic expeditions to explore this rarely glimpsed, hidden and inexplicable ecosystem.
“As polar scientists, we’re going to have to find new and innovative ways to study them and answer all the new questions we have,” says Griffiths.