6 amazing facts about the ‘underworld’ discovered in Antarctica

When a group of scientists from New Zealand decided to drill the ice in Antarctica, they did not imagine discovering a new population of living beings living there. It was necessary to go deep to reach the shrimp-like animals, more precisely 500 meters.

At the end of the hole, they came to a bed of fresh water and in it there was an unknown species.

“Being able to observe this river was like being the first to enter a hidden world,” said the professor. Huw horganfrom Victoria University of Wellington, to “The Guardian”.

ecosystem - Disclosure - Disclosure

New living things discovered in a hole in Antarctica

Image: Disclosure

Below are some incredible details of this underwater ecosystem:

Searching for secret rivers

According to an article published on the website of the National Institute of Water and Atmosphere of New Zealand (Niwa, its acronym in English), Professor Horgan was investigating a groove that was detected when studying satellite images. He was concerned about the impacts of climate change on the site, which was beginning to flow off the mainland.

Researchers have suspected for some time that there is an extensive network of freshwater rivers hidden beneath Antarctica’s ice sheets, which has not been studied directly.

A team of researchers from the universities of Wellington, Auckland and Otago, supported by the institute antarctica new Zealand, Niwa and the GNS Science Institute, want to discover the role of this estuary in the melting of the ice shelf and what the climate impact on this.

Cold and dark hole

To find the groove, the scientists drilled a hole in the ice 500 meters deep. When they lowered the camera to analyze the water at the bottom, they discovered that it was infested by the group of small animals.

The ecosystem was at a point near the south of New Zealand, hundreds of kilometers the edge of the world’s largest ice shelf, which spans 487,000 km² in the Ross Sea.

The region where the species were found is completely dark, too far out of the reach of sunlight, and extremely cold.

In the images released by the team of scientists, it is possible to see the small animals moving around, illuminated only by the lights of the cameras.

surreal images

As the idea was to observe a freshwater bed, the images of an unknown swarm surprised scientists.

Niwa scientist Craig Stevens told The Guardian that initially the team thought there was a problem with the camera. Only later did they realize they were visualizing an underwater ecosystem. In other words: a bunch of little creatures in front of the lens.

“For a while we thought something was wrong with the camera, but when the focus improved, we noticed a school of arthropods about 5mm in size,” Stevens said. “Having all these animals swimming around our equipment means that there is an important ecosystem here.”

The animals are of the same phylum as shrimp, lobsters and crabs.

According to Professor Huw Horgan, equipment was left in place to investigate the behavior of the river.

Volcanic eruption and tsunami

The team was deployed to the area a few days before the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai submarine volcano, which took place on January 15th. As the scientists studied the estuary, they detected a significant change in pressure as the tsunami passed through the cavity.

“Seeing the effect of the volcano in Tonga, which erupted thousands of kilometers away, was quite remarkable,” Stevens told the Niwa website. “It’s also a reminder of how connected our entire planet is. The climate is changing and some important focal points have yet to be understood by science.”

“However, what is clear is that big changes are afoot — even more so if we don’t work together to change our greenhouse gas emissions.”

How do they feed?

According to the CNET website, researchers are now trying to understand how the animals feed, as the region is so remote that there are few sources of energy. “What’s providing the nutrients?” Stevens said. “That’s probably what intrigues us most about it.”

For the scientist, the first step to understanding the importance of estuaries under the ice is to know the similarities and differences with the traditional ones.

The team plans to analyze the water samples, which could reveal how an ecosystem like the newly discovered develops away from light and the open ocean.

About Abhishek Pratap

Food maven. Unapologetic travel fanatic. MCU's fan. Infuriatingly humble creator. Award-winning pop culture ninja.

Check Also

Tests in Europe assess the safety of using eVTOLs; see the chosen cities

Image: Dutch Aerospace Center In a few years, urban air mobility will be a reality, …