Antarctica is the coldest of Earth’s continents and is known for its white landscapes and distinctive wildlife.
So, it stands to reason that an accidental discovery of a complex technicolor underwater ecosystem far beneath the Antarctic ice has surprised scientists.
In fact, a research team was retrieving a data recorder from waters near the Casey Research Station and sent down a camera with lights to record the mission. The team was studying the impact of acidification on marine life on the seafloor. The team was surprised to find that the camera had recorded a unique glimpse of life beneath the Antarctic ice.
Can you imagine these species are surviving in water that is -1.5 degrees Celsius (29.3 degrees Fahrenheit) year round and are covered with 1.5-metre (4.9-foot) thick sea ice for about ten months?
Glenn Johnstone, an Australian Antarctic Division biologist, said, “It’s an area that we have been working very close to for a long time, but we’ve never actually dived or put any cameras down. It was a great surprise to find such a beautiful, vibrant environment. This footage reveals a habitat that is productive, colourful, dynamic and full of a wide variety of biodiversity, including sponges, sea spiders, urchins, sea cucumbers and sea stars.”