Feeds

Researchers probe Southern Ocean's icy depths

Here be monsters, me biodiverse buckaroos

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Researchers from Australia, France and Japan have returned to port from the Southern Ocean following a two-month jaunt to probe the icy depths, which yielded some impressive footage of the abyss as well as a range of hitherto-unknown Antarctic sea monsters.

The floor of the Southern Ocean. Image: Australian Antarctic Division

Oz's Aurora Australis joined France's L'Astrolabe and Japan's Umitaka Maru on the "census of life" dubbed the "Collaborative East Antarctic Marine Census" (CEAMARC). While the French and Japanese ships busied themselves with examining the mid and upper ocean environment, Australian researchers concentrated their efforts on the ocean floor.

Aurora Australis head boffin Dr Martin Riddle says that the vessel's expedition uncovered "a remarkably rich, colourful and complex range of marine life in this previously unknown environment".

He added: "Some of the video footage we have collected is really stunning – it's amazing to be able to navigate undersea mountains and valleys and actually see what the animals look like in their undisturbed state.

"In some places every inch of the sea floor is covered in life. In other places we can see deep scars and gouges where icebergs scour the sea floor as they pass by. Gigantism is very common in Antarctic waters – we have collected huge worms, giant crustaceans and sea spiders the size of dinner plates."

The floor of the Southern Ocean. Image: Australian Antarctic Division

CEAMARC, the Australian Antarctic Division explains, forms part of the international Census of Antarctic Marine Life which it coordinates, and will involve 16 voyages to Antarctic waters during the "International Polar Year" of 2007-2009.

The census will "survey the biodiversity of Antarctic slopes, abyssal plains, open water, and under disintegrating ice shelves", and aims to "determine species biodiversity, abundance and distribution and establish a baseline dataset from which future changes can be observed".

Riddle elaborated: "This survey establishes a point of reference to monitor the impact of environmental change in Antarctic waters. For example, ocean acidification, caused by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, will make it harder for marine organisms to grow and sustain calcium carbonate skeletons.

"It is predicted that the first effects of this will be seen in the cold, deep waters of Antarctica. Our results provide a robust benchmark for testing these predictions."

There are links to more pictures and movie material of the Southern Ocean's depths here. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?