An underwater robot in East Antarctica has captured a rare glimpse beneath the Antarctic sea ice, revealing a thriving, colourful world. The footage shows beautiful to dreadful water creatures on camera in their world.
“When you think of the Antarctic coastal marine environment, the iconic species such as penguins, seals and whales usually steal the show, said Dr GlennJohnstone, Australian Antarctic Division Biologist.
“This footage reveals a habitat that is productive, colourful, dynamic and full of a wide variety of biodiversity, including sponges, sea spiders, urchins, sea cucumbers and sea stars, he added.
Coconut-shaped sponges, dandelion-like worms, pink encrusting algae and spidery starfish are some to name a few under the sea ice at O'Brien Bay, near Casey research station inEast Antarctica.
“Occasionally an iceberg may move around and wipe out an unlucky community, but mostly the sea ice provides protection from the storms that rage above, making it a relatively stable environment in which biodiversity can flourish,” said Johnstone.
Scientists see this as a great opportunity to explore the underwater biodiversity and complexity of the Antarctic near-shore ecosystem and the threats it is facing into the future. But ocean acidification remains one of the biggest threats to these organisms.