You wouldn’t think the icy cold waters around Antarctica would be home to much more than a few micro-organisms, perhaps the odd fish or two. But as it has done so many times before, nature has once again shown how life can thrive in the most unusual places.
A 50-day, 2000-mile journey through the Ross Sea by scientists has discovered a whole range of weird new creatures. Take the two-foot wide starfish, for example. How did it get so big in such harsh conditions? What about jellyfish with tentacles 12 feet long, and huge sea snails? In fact, it is thought that hundreds of new species will be identified as a result of the mission – not what you’d expect from Antarctica. (Click here for an excellent Antarctica interactive)
Amazingly, the cold temperatures may actually help the animals that live in Antarctic waters. Because it’s too could for most predators, any animals there are quite safe, so can grow for years without being eaten up. Because it is so cold, the life processes of some of the animals are slowed down, giving them a greater lifespan than they would otherwise have, which gives them more time to grow. There are also high levels of oxygen in the water.
I’m always amazed when we discover life in another seemingly uninhabited area – it just shows how versatile life is. Let’s just hope that humans don’t destroy any more new species before we even discover them.