Thursday, 22 January 2015

Fish live beneath Antarctica

Drilling under 740 metres of the Ross Ice Shelf reveals translucent fish living in perpetual darkness and cold.
21 January 2015


An article by Scientific American.

Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling Project

The first low-resolution image of a translucent fish that researchers discovered beneath Antarctica’s ice reveals two black eyes and various internal organs (coloured blobs).

Stunned researchers in Antarctica have discovered fish and other aquatic animals living in perpetual darkness and cold, beneath a roof of ice 740 metres thick. The animals inhabit a wedge of seawater only 10 metres deep, sealed between the ice above and a barren, rocky seafloor below — a location so remote and hostile the many scientists expected to find nothing but scant microbial life.

A team of ice drillers and scientists made the discovery after lowering a small, custom-built robot down a narrow hole they bored through theRoss Ice Shelf, a slab of glacial ice the size of France that hangs off the coastline of Antarctica and floats on the ocean. The remote water they tapped sits beneath the back corner of the floating shelf, where the shelf meets what would be the shore of Antarctica if all that ice were removed. The spot sits 850 kilometres from the outer edge of the ice shelf, the nearest place where the ocean is in contact with sunlight that allows tiny plankton to grow and sustain a food chain.

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