Researchers have discovered about 60 million icefish nests in Antarctica

posted on 01/14/2022 19:00

  (credit: Disclosure)

(credit: Disclosure)

Near the Filcher Ice Shelf in the Weddell Sea, a team of researchers has found the largest fish farm in the world. Cameras photographed and filmed about 60 million icefish nests on the seafloor.

The icefish is a species of fish that lives in the icy seas of Antarctica, about a thousand meters deep and is known to be the only vertebrate animal that has transparent blood.

This discovery supports the creation of a Marine Protected Area in the Atlantic Ocean of the Southern Ocean. A team led by the Alfred Wegener Institute published the results in the scientific journal Current Biology.

ice fish colonies
ice fish colonies
(photo: Publicity)

The discovery took place in February 2021, when the team was on the German research vessel Polarstern. Through the cameras, the researchers saw that about 500 meters below were several fish nests. The longer the mission lasted, the more the excitement grew as it found more animals at every turn.

The mapping of the area is of a length of 240 kilometers, which is approximately the size of the island of Malta. “The idea that such a large breeding ground for icefish in the Weddell Sea has not been discovered before is utterly fascinating,” says Autun Pursen, one of the researchers.

Based on the images, the team was able to identify the round nests, containing between 1,500 and 2,500 eggs and guarded in three quarters of cases by an adult icefish.

The researchers mapped the distribution and density of the nests using the long-range side-scan sonars that recorded the images. It was also found that the breeding area corresponds to the influx of warmer waters from the Weddell Sea.

*Intern under the supervision of Pedro Grigori

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