From: Roger Greenway, ENN
Published December 22, 2009 07:44 AM

British Antarctic Survey finds rich Antarctic marine life

The British Antarctic Survey has released new photographs of ice fish, octopus, sea pigs, giant sea spiders, rare rays and beautiful basket stars that live in Antarctica's continental shelf seas are revealed this week by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).

As part of an international study on sea surface to seabed biodiversity a research team from across Europe, USA, Australia and South Africa onboard the BAS Royal Research Ship James Clark Ross sampled a bizarre collection of marine creatures from the Bellingshausen Sea, West Antarctica — one of the fastest warming seas in the world. Research cruise leader Dr. David Barnes of British Antarctic Survey said,

"Few people realize just how rich in biodiversity the Southern Ocean is — even a single trawl can reveal a fascinating array of weird and wonderful creatures as would be seen on a coral reef. These animals are potentially very good indicators of environmental change as many occur in the shallows, which are changing fast, but also in deeper water which will warm much less quickly. We can now begin to get a better understanding of how the ecosystem will adapt to change."

"Our research on species living in the waters surrounding the BAS Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula shows that some species are incredibly sensitive to temperature changes. Our new studies on the diverse range of marine creatures living in the deep waters of the Bellingshausen Sea will help us build a more complete picture of Antarctica's marine biodiversity and give us an important baseline against which we can compare future impact on marine life."

BAS photographer Peter Bucktrout took stunning images of an astonishingly rich and unusual variety of life from on and above the deep continental shelf. Photo shows a sea pig.

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