Science

Odd Sea Life from British Antarctic Survey
Stunning images of the astonishingly rich and unusual variety of life in Antarctica's waters, from the British Antarctic Survey.

Young Icefish

A young icefish, or Chaenocephalus aceratus — these fish are highly adapted to life in cold water with anti-freeze, but no red blood cells, in their blood.

BAS/Peter Bucktrout

Isopod Crustaceans

These animals (the woodlice of the sea) appear as though they have been squashed and resemble fossil trilobites. This species is seen from above (left) and below (right) and is partly see-through.

BAS/Peter Bucktrout

Scale Worm

A scale worm, scientific name Laetmonice sp. Polychaete worms like this are often the most abundant large organisms particularly on this continental shelf (the warmest around Antarctica).

BAS/Peter Bucktrout

Skate

Skates, such as this Bathyraja sp., are rare in Antarctica. They live just above the seabed and have crushing mouthparts to eat shellfish and other animals living on the seabed. Most crushing predators became extinct in Antarctica when it cooled, but as it warms species such as this skate may become more common and have a big impact on the wide variety of native seabed life that have lived with few predators for millions of years.

BAS/Peter Bucktrout

Comb Jelly

Comb Jelly, like this Mnemiopsis sp., can be very abundant in Southern Ocean surface waters and it is widely suggested that they will be amongst the big winners in a higher CO2 world.

BAS/Peter Bucktrout

Feather Star

Feather stars, or Promachocrinus sp., are very mobile as both adults and larvae, eat phytoplankton (marine algae) and as such may track the changing patterns of marine algae. Sea ice retreat and marine algae distribution are two of the strongest impacts of climate change measured in the region to date.

BAS/Peter Bucktrout

Octopus

Octopus (this one is probably Pareledone sp.) seemed particularly common in the study area and were found in most trawls. They seem to have undergone a major recent radiation centered in Antarctica.

BAS/Peter Bucktrout

Sea Pig

The sea pig (also called a sea cucumber or Holothuroid), was one of the most common and abundant animals caught. Sea cucumbers are important in processing the sediment (like earthworms on land) but their numbers worldwide have been threatened by recent fisheries.

BAS/Peter Bucktrout

Basket Star

Basket Star, Gorganocephalus sp.— This beautiful brittle star was filmed expanding its curly, branching arms out over about a minute. It was found with its arms intertwined with an octocoral. Posed here, it is able to filter feed on food floating by in the water above the seabed.

BAS/Peter Bucktrout

Unknown Soft Coral

Unknown soft coral, awaiting identification by experts. This is the first the team has seen despite many cruises examining marine life in the region.

BAS/Peter Bucktrout

Isopod Crustacean

An isopod crustacean, scientific name Antarcturus sp. This group of animals (which woodlice on land belong to) are very rich in the Southern Ocean, particularly in deeper water. Antarcturus tend to hang off seaweed, sponges or (as here) sea fans to catch tiny plankton in the water.

BAS/Peter Bucktrout

Amphipod (Sand Hopper)

Gigantism (due to high oxygen levels in polar waters) was first demonstrated in amphipods and they are an important group that often take the role of animals such as crabs (which are virtually absent in Antarctica).

BAS/Peter Bucktrout

Odd Sea Life from British Antarctic Survey

Stunning images of the astonishingly rich and unusual variety of life in Antarctica's waters, from the British Antarctic Survey.

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