Animal life was not expected to be discovered in the pitch-black waters beneath nearly half a mile of floating Antarctic ice, but it appears to have found a way with the discovery of marine animals that thrive in the harsh environment.
During a study in Antarctica, a group of researchers identified organisms surviving at -2°C temperatures beneath an ice shelf in the southeastern Weddell Sea. The discovery was found by British Antarctic Survey biogeographer Huw Griffiths and his team of explorers while working on the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf.
Both types of stationary organisms are assumed to be sponges or related to sponges, but scientists did not expect to find them beneath the ice shelf, hundreds of kilometres from the shore, in absolute darkness. British Antarctic Survey
Griffiths gave information about his incredible discovery in a short video posted to Twitter by the British Antarctic Survey.
What method did they use to locate it?
When the geologists used a hot-water drill to dig a hole through the 3,000-foot-thick ice and lowered a coring device and a video camera into the murky waters below it, they were more than 150 miles from the open ocean.
They had anticipated the seafloor to be mud, but were disappointed when they came upon a boulder, which prevented them from collecting the sediment samples they needed. Surprisingly, the camera revealed colonies of “stationary” invertebrates clinging to the rock — most likely sponges and other aquatic critters.
The British Antarctic Survey is a government-run organization that conducts research in Antarctica.
Fish, worms, and jellies were discovered dwelling beneath the ice shelf in prior investigations in the region. Griffiths and his team, on the other hand, discovered a filter-feeding species. “Recently, we discovered life far beneath a massive floating ice shelf. “We never anticipated to find this sort of animal, one that filters feeds its food from the water column, this far from a source of food or sun,” Griffiths said in the video.
What did the poll reveal?
“Everything we know about these habitats under the ice comes from a few of holes dug through the ice by people and then cameras lowered below,” he continued. According to Griffiths, the study has demonstrated that people may not be aware of how much land is beneath the ice shelves on Antarctica’s continent. Griffiths and his colleagues discovered one filter feeder sponge on a stalk, 15 sponges without stalks, and 22 stalked animals that may be sponges, barnacles, cnidaria, or polychaetes.
The finding demonstrates that life can thrive in places where science says it shouldn’t: “We still have a lot of things to learn,” Griffiths added. “There are still animals out there who can defy the laws we’ve established for them.