‘Hidden World’ of Marine Life Discovered Beneath Antarctica Sea Ice Leaves Researchers Amazed; shared pictures

World hidden under the ice of Antarctica (Credit: NIWA)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The ecosystem was discovered 500 meters below the Ross Ice Shelf as the team investigated the impact of global warming on a suspected estuary.
  • The team included researchers from the Universities of Wellington, Auckland and Otago, the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric (Niwa) and Geological and Nuclear Sciences.
  • When the team sent a camera into the river after drilling through the pack ice, they were surprised to see swarming amphipods, small creatures of the same lineage as lobsters, crabs and mites.
Antarctica researchers are stunned after discovering a “hidden world” of marine life 500m below a vast ice shelf.

New Zealand researchers were able to find swarms of small shrimp-like creatures in the underwater ecosystem, which would have remained secret for a long time.

The ecosystem was discovered 500 meters below the Ross Ice Shelf as the team investigated the impact of global warming at a suspected estuary, according to reports.

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The team included researchers from the Universities of Wellington, Auckland and Otago, the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric (Niwa) and Geological and Nuclear Sciences.

When the team sent a camera into the river after drilling through the pack ice, they were surprised to see swarming amphipods, small creatures of the same lineage as lobsters, crabs and mites.

“For a moment we thought something was wrong with the camera, but when the focus improved we noticed a swarm of arthropods about 5mm in size. We experimented in other parts of the pack ice and thought we had it under control, but this time around some big surprises happened,” said Niwa’s Craig Stevens.

Stevens said the main motivation for working was climate change, but the expedition still had an element of discovery.

“We were jumping for joy because all these animals swimming around our gear means there’s clearly an important ecosystem there,” he continued.

The estuary was first spotted by Huw Horgan of Te Herenga Waka Victoria University in Wellington. Huw also happens to be the project manager.

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