Although it is not uncommon to find marine animals prosperous under the Antarctic seafloor, researchers have always fictional that all life would become less abundant further away from open water and sunlight. However, the discovery of filter-feeding organisms – 160 miles (260 km) away from the open ocean, with temperatures of -2.2 ° C and in complete darkness – suggests that life in the harshest parts of the world world ambient Maybe more adaptable Y diverse than previously thought.
“It’s a little crazy”Says marine biogeographer and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) study leader Dr. Huw Griffiths. “Never in a million years would we have thought of looking for this kind of life because we didn’t think it would be there.”
In 2017, BAS geologist James Smith and his colleagues embarked on a expedition to the center of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf of Antarctica, to recover a sample of the seabed sediment. The team drilled the half mile of ice by pumping nearly 20,000 liters of hot water, created by melting 20 tons of snow, through a pipe lowered down a well. After about 20 hours of careful work, they were finally able to traverse the ice shelf and reach the sea floor.
However, when scientists lowered the instrument, along with a GoPro camera, to recover a soil sample came out empty. After several failed attempts, each round trip takes about an hour, the researchers took a closer look at the images and noticed a massive rock settled in the middle of the relatively flat seabed. Even more surprising, the rock was covered in stationary animals, such as sponges and potentially several previously unknown species.
The find was particularly confused Given the sessile organisms, such as sponges and coral polyps, that spend their entire lives attached to submerged rocks or other hard surfaces need a constant supply of food. In the open sea, “marine snow”, as it is called, comes from decadent organic matter, which descends from the upper waters to the depths of the ocean. However, the organisms attached to the ice shelf rock are too far from the open sea to receive a constant supply of nutrients. To make matters worse, due to the strong ocean currents in the area, food has to travel between 370 and 930 miles to reach them.
“This is by far the farthest under an ice shelf that we’ve seen in any of these filter-feeding animals,” Griffiths said. “These things are stuck to a rock and only feed if something is floating.”
The scientists, who published their findings in the journal Frontiers in marine science on February 15, 2021, they say that since they cannot collect samples, it is difficult to get more perspectives in organisms. “It was a real shock to find them there, really a good shock, but we cannot do DNA tests, we cannot find out what they have been eating or how old they are. We don’t even know if they are new species, but they are definitely living in a place where we would not expect them to live, ”Griffiths said.
Resources: Livescience.com, newscientist.com, bas, ac.uk