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Strange New Creatures Found in Antarctica
LiveScience ^ | Sun Feb 25, 2006 | Andrea Thompson

Posted on 02/27/2007 7:28:37 AM PST by presidio9

Several strange creatures including a psychedelic octopus have been found in frigid waters off Antarctica in one of the world’s most pristine marine environments.

Others resembled corals and shrimps. At least 30 appear to be new to science, said Julian Gutt, chief scientist of an expedition that was part of the International Polar Year research effort set to launch on March 1. The researchers catalogued about 1,000 species in an area of the Antarctic seabed where warming temperatures are believed to have caused the collapse of overlying ice shelves, affecting the marine life below.

“This is virgin geography,” said expedition member Gauthier Chapelle. “If we don’t find out what this area is like now following the collapse of the ice shelf, and what species are there, we won’t have any basis to know in 20 years’ time what has changed and how global warming has altered the marine ecosystem.”

The expedition also found sea lilies, sea cucumbers and sea urchins thriving on the sea floor—these species are usually found in much deeper waters where food is scarce, but the ice shelves probably made food scarcer than it would usually be at that shallow depth.

In the Weddell Sea off the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, 10,000 square kilometers of seabed was sealed off from the surface for thousands of years by the 100-m thick Larsen A and B ice shelves. When these ice shelves collapsed in recent years, the area was opened up to colonization by species that could not have survived there before [Original News Story].

The international team of scientists recently completed a 10-week expedition of the area. Using a remote operating vehicle, they were able to do the first comprehensive survey of life on the seabed. Before the ice shelves collapsed, the only access scientists had to the area was through holes drilled in the ice.

Ice shelves form when creeping glaciers reach the continent’s coast and begin to float on the ocean. They usually lose mass via icebergs that calve off and float out to sea gradually, but the Larsen A and B shelves both suddenly and surprisingly collapsed. Since 1974, a total of 13,500 square kilometers (about half the size of New Jersey) of ice shelves have disintegrated—a phenomenon linked to global warming, as temperatures have risen faster in Antarctica than anywhere else in world.

In general, the expedition found that animals were less abundant in the Larsen A and B areas compared to other areas of the Antarctic. Animals in the area were only one percent as abundant as other parts of the Weddell Sea, which Gutt suspects is somehow related to the availability of food.

New species?

One of the main aims of the expedition was to survey both indigenous life-forms and creatures that had moved in after the collapse to take advantage of the newly opened environment.

Gutt said that 95 percent of the animals the expedition found were probably indigenous and just 5 percent had moved in after the ice shelves collapsed, but even that small percentage indicated a shift in biodiversity and species composition in the area which will probably continue.

“Life at the sea floor obviously reacts very slowly to this very climactic change in the environmental conditions," Gutt said. “[It] needs hundreds to thousands of years until a new community has fully developed, if this will happen at all.”

One creature new to the neighborhood was the fast-growing, gelatinous sea squirt, which the scientists found in several dense patches.

Iceberg damage

The expedition also found scours created by icebergs that calved from the ice sheets and ran aground on the sea bed, destroying the life in the area, but the damage wasn’t as bad as expected.

“I expected more, because if there are thousands of icebergs disintegrated, or calved, in a very short period of only a few months, then I expected that everything would be destroyed. But it was not,” Gutt said.

The expedition actually found more evidence of disturbance outside the Larsen ice shelf area at points where many icebergs must pass.

But in the areas icebergs had destroyed, Gutt said, signs of life were returning.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: cryptozoology

1 posted on 02/27/2007 7:28:39 AM PST by presidio9
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To: presidio9

"Psychedelic octopus" sounds like a good name for a band.


2 posted on 02/27/2007 7:30:55 AM PST by PBRSTREETGANG
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To: presidio9

Can't an Ice Shelf collapse under the stress of its own weight?


3 posted on 02/27/2007 7:31:09 AM PST by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: presidio9
.... how global warming has altered the marine ecosystem.

Because, we all know, global warming is a forgone conlusion. /sarc

I stopped reading right there.

4 posted on 02/27/2007 7:31:27 AM PST by kerryusama04 (Isa 8:20, Eze 22:26)
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To: presidio9

They must have arrived via the Ozone Hole. /s


5 posted on 02/27/2007 7:32:01 AM PST by D-Chivas
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To: sauropod

review


6 posted on 02/27/2007 7:32:31 AM PST by sauropod ( "The View:" A Tupperware party in the 10th circle of Hell.)
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To: PBRSTREETGANG
"Psychedelic octopus" sounds like a good name for a band.

If only Dave Barry were still writing columns.

7 posted on 02/27/2007 7:34:11 AM PST by GraniteStateConservative (...He had committed no crime against America so I did not bring him here...-- Worst.President.Ever.)
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To: presidio9

Boy, if it weren't for "global warming" we would've never found all of this...

Of course, my spider-sense goes up every time a "new species" announcement is made, because it will soon follow that we have to protect it and legislation will be danced out to keep man out of those areas.


8 posted on 02/27/2007 7:35:12 AM PST by swatbuznik
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To: presidio9

Are they sure the strange new creature wasn't Al Gore swimming by checking on ice berg damage?

A whole new species of whale.


9 posted on 02/27/2007 7:35:18 AM PST by Basheva
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To: presidio9
...Others resembled corals and shrimps.

(sic)

10 posted on 02/27/2007 7:39:09 AM PST by Red Badger (Britney Spears shaved her head............Well, that's one way of getting rid of headlice.........)
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To: presidio9
Several strange creatures including a psychedelic octopus have been found in frigid waters off Antarctica in one of the world’s most pristine marine environments.

Sushi chefs are ready!


11 posted on 02/27/2007 7:39:46 AM PST by COBOL2Java ("No stronger retrograde force exists in the world" - Winston Churchill on Islam)
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To: pcottraux

ping


12 posted on 02/27/2007 7:40:45 AM PST by presidio9 (There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey)
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To: Basheva

I will never sleep again if we don't save the gelatinous sea squirt. I can already see the bumper stickers. (sarcasm still on!!)


13 posted on 02/27/2007 7:41:49 AM PST by ohioman
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To: presidio9
>“This is virgin geography,” said expedition member Gauthier Chapelle.

A variety
of psychedelic Tara
Reid
s were discovered . . .






14 posted on 02/27/2007 7:41:49 AM PST by theFIRMbss
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To: kerryusama04
I stopped reading right there.

Me too!!!

15 posted on 02/27/2007 7:48:26 AM PST by Dustbunny (The BIBLE - Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)
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To: presidio9
Iceberg damage

We have this problem in our neighborhood. Our auto insurance rates have gone up as a result.

16 posted on 02/27/2007 8:06:07 AM PST by Disambiguator
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To: presidio9

""Before the ice shelves collapsed, the only access scientists had to the area was through holes drilled in the ice. ""


Stupid egg heads tore up the ice shelves.


17 posted on 02/27/2007 8:09:11 AM PST by ping jockey (We have sissy's for leaders and WE will pay the highest cost.)
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To: presidio9


Strange New Creatures Found in Antarctica >>>


Democrats?


18 posted on 02/27/2007 8:10:45 AM PST by Cucumber (what has 4 wheels and flies?)
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To: kerryusama04

A trend that is buried in this article is that with increasing temps, biodiversity is increasing. Before that, it was a barren wasteland.

So here, an enhanced environment leading to greater biodiversity is "bad".


19 posted on 02/27/2007 8:16:58 AM PST by rusty millet
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To: presidio9

What...no Helen Thomas pics?


20 posted on 02/27/2007 8:20:31 AM PST by BenLurkin
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To: presidio9
Oh, oh ...

21 posted on 02/27/2007 9:10:09 AM PST by Malone LaVeigh
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To: presidio9
Strange New Creatures Found in Antarctica


22 posted on 02/27/2007 9:12:13 AM PST by mysterio
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To: Angelas; presidio9; Idisarthur; Hegemony Cricket; A knight without armor; new cruelty; SunkenCiv; ..

23 posted on 02/27/2007 9:44:27 AM PST by pcottraux (It's pronounced "P. Coe-troe.")
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To: GraniteStateConservative

I thought they were good at camouflage. Maybe it was a regular octopus sitting on a psychedelic rock.


24 posted on 02/27/2007 10:43:49 AM PST by A knight without armor
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To: Disambiguator
We have this problem in our neighborhood. Our auto insurance rates have gone up as a result.

Sheeeesh I can imagine. The claims must be TITANIC.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

25 posted on 02/27/2007 12:06:22 PM PST by ExSoldier (Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb voting on dinner. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.)
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To: All
An octopus' garden in the sea?

That sounds sooooo familiar....lol
26 posted on 02/27/2007 12:18:01 PM PST by Jeffrey_D. (Seek first to understand, then to be understood)
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