Mysterious Sea Creatures Found In Antarctic Waters

ScienceDaily (Feb. 21, 2008) — The return of the last of three Antarctic marine science research vessels marks the culmination of one of Australia's most ambitious International Polar Year projects, a census of life in the icy Southern Ocean known as the Collaborative East Antarctic Marine Census (CEAMARC).

Australia's Aurora Australis and collaborating vessels L'Astrolabe (France) and Umitaka Maru (Japan) have returned from the Southern Ocean, their decks overflowing with a vast array of ocean life including a number of previously unknown species collected from the cold waters near the East Antarctic land mass.

While the French and Japanese ships have been examining the mid and upper ocean environment over the past two months, Aurora Australis had her eyes fixed on the ocean floor, using both traditional and innovative sampling equipment to capture the diversity of life.

Aurora Australis voyage leader Dr Martin Riddle says that their expedition uncovered a remarkably rich, colourful and complex range of marine life in this previously unknown environment.

"Some of the video footage we have collected is really stunning – it's amazing to be able to navigate undersea mountains and valleys and actually see what the animals look like in their undisturbed state," he said.

CEAMARC is part of the international Census of Antarctic Marine Life, coordinated by the Australian Antarctic Division, which will see some 16 voyages to Antarctic waters during this, the International Polar Year (2007-2009).

The Census of Antarctic Marine Life will survey the biodiversity of Antarctic slopes, abyssal plains, open water, and under disintegrating ice shelves. The census aims to determine species biodiversity, abundance and distribution and establish a baseline dataset from which future changes can be observed.

Source: ScienceDaily

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