Friday, April 13, 2012

Antarctic Expedition


Pretty recently, there were some scientists doing research in the Antarctic to get a census on Antarctic marine life. They had been retrieving their samples from up to 2000 meters below the surface. They had collected some rather mysterious creatures including very large sea spiders and sea worms. In fact it was said that some were the size of dinner plates. This was the result of a phenomenon call “gigantisms.” This is just when an organism will grow to unusual sizes, but it is still something scientists know little about. The impacts from things like climate change in this area had been one influence scientists had considered. The specimens were being sent to a number of labs to be identified. They knew that there would be some that would not be able to be identified, and these, could be the potentially new species. 

One of the most bizarre-looking creatures the scientists had come across where tunicates that looked like slender glass structures. These tunicates are early colonizers of the Antarctic region and had been disturbed by icebergs that pass along the ocean floor. Now, the one scientist said they were like a “field of poppies.” Some of them had grown up to a meter tall.

There were other animals that they found strikingly odd. They had said that some of these fish had fins in various places such as funny dangly bits around their mouths. Some were very strange looking because of their very large eyes from evolutionary effects due to their lives as bottom dwellers on the dark ocean floor.


One strange animal in particular….

This bright pink eelpout (Pachycara priedei) is one of six new fish species discovered. It has very “jelly-like” flesh and is very adapted to pressure. It hunts along the ocean floor and eats fish or whale carcasses. It has very tiny eyes, but they can pick up bioluminescent signals from squid and shrimp. Also, its snout has sensory pits for detecting the movement of prey in the darkness.
On later expeditions, even more new, interesting species were being discovered. It was actually noted that more than 700 new species were discovered during these expeditions between 2002 and 2005.


This is the baby isopod, Ceratoserolis. It is just one of 585 new species of isopod. It is a type of marine crustacean closely related to wood lice.


This is the Cylindrarcturus. It is very shrimp-like and was caught floating through the deep water. These creatures, along with several others, are very small and very whiteish and without color. This is probably because it is so deep and dark down there, you don't really need any color.



Researchers on this expedition had brought up many more wild new creatures including heart-shaped sea urchins, carnivorous sponges, and giant sea spiders the size of dinner plates. Even though these are only just a few of newly discovered creatures, these findings, and the expedition entirely, is just another step to discovering the biodiversity of the world’s oceans.




Source 1
Source 2

5 comments:

  1. This is the prefect example of how little we know about the creatures that exist in the ocean. It always blows my mind how many new species are being found and how each one contains some sort of adaptation that is unique.

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  3. I agree Kelly! This is fantastic that we are discovering so much about the life under water. I would be interested as to the research about the unique adaptations and how humans can use the information to help our population to adapt to the ever changing world. Thanks for sharing this Lydia!

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  4. These little guys are kinda creepy looking... But They are very interesting! Kelly, isn't is crazy that we know more about the surface of the moon than we do our deep oceans? Lydia, this was very well formatted and I think you did a wonderful job talking about this interesting little creature!

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  5. I agree with Desi, these little guys are a little creepy looking, but very cool at the same time. This reminds me of the deep sea and how little we know about the organisms there and how much we still have to learn. It is like a completely foreign planet to us!

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