Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mysterious Sea Creatures Found In Antarctic Waters

Date:
February 21, 2008
Source:
Australian Antarctic Division
Summary:
Research vessels have returned overflowing with a vast array of ocean life including a number of previously unknown species collected from the cold waters near the East Antarctic land mass. French and Japanese ships examined the mid and upper ocean environment, while the Australian vessel had her eyes fixed on the ocean floor, using both traditional and innovative sampling equipment to capture the diversity of life. Scientists have collected huge worms, giant crustaceans and sea spiders the size of dinner plates.

Glass-like animals known as tunicates are early colonisers of the sea floor.
Credit: Antarctic Division

The return of the last of three Antarctic marine science research vessels marks the culmination of one of Australia's most ambitious International Polar Year projects, a census of life in the icy Southern Ocean known as the Collaborative East Antarctic Marine Census (CEAMARC).

Australia's Aurora Australis and collaborating vessels L'Astrolabe (France) and Umitaka Maru (Japan) have returned from the Southern Ocean, their decks overflowing with a vast array of ocean life including a number of previously unknown species collected from the cold waters near the East Antarctic land mass.

While the French and Japanese ships have been examining the mid and upper ocean environment over the past two months, Aurora Australis had her eyes fixed on the ocean floor, using both traditional and innovative sampling equipment to capture the diversity of life.

Aurora Australis voyage leader Dr Martin Riddle says that their expedition uncovered a remarkably rich, colourful and complex range of marine life in this previously unknown environment.

"Some of the video footage we have collected is really stunning – it's amazing to be able to navigate undersea mountains and valleys and actually see what the animals look like in their undisturbed state," he said.

"In some places every inch of the sea floor is covered in life. In other places we can see deep scars and gouges where icebergs scour the sea floor as they pass by. Gigantism is very common in Antarctic waters – we have collected huge worms, giant crustaceans and sea spiders the size of dinner plates.

"This survey establishes a point of reference to monitor the impact of environmental change in Antarctic waters. For example, ocean acidification, caused by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, will make it harder for marine organisms to grow and sustain calcium carbonate skeletons.

"It is predicted that the first effects of this will be seen in the cold, deep waters of Antarctica. Our results provide a robust benchmark for testing these predictions."

CEAMARC Project Leader Dr Graham Hosie said that researchers are only beginning to understand the complex biodiversity that lies beneath the surface of the Southern Ocean and its importance in local, regional and global ecosystems.

"This research will help scientists understand how communities have adapted to the unique Antarctic environment. Our work also has wider applications, for example understanding fish community composition and structure is particularly important to explain the impacts of commercial trawling.

"Specimens collected will be sent to universities and museums around the world for identification, tissue sampling and bar-coding of their DNA. Not all of the creatures that we found could be identified and it is very likely that some new species will be recorded as a result of these voyages."

CEAMARC is part of the international Census of Antarctic Marine Life, coordinated by the Australian Antarctic Division, which will see some 16 voyages to Antarctic waters during this, the International Polar Year (2007-2009).

The Census of Antarctic Marine Life will survey the biodiversity of Antarctic slopes, abyssal plains, open water, and under disintegrating ice shelves. The census aims to determine species biodiversity, abundance and distribution and establish a baseline dataset from which future changes can be observed.

Video available at: http://www.aad.gov.au/MediaLibrary/asset/mediaitems/ml_394975880439815_see_ocean_floor_footage.mp4


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Australian Antarctic Division. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Australian Antarctic Division. "Mysterious Sea Creatures Found In Antarctic Waters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080220151306.htm>.
Australian Antarctic Division. (2008, February 21). Mysterious Sea Creatures Found In Antarctic Waters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080220151306.htm
Australian Antarctic Division. "Mysterious Sea Creatures Found In Antarctic Waters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080220151306.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins