If you’re scared of jellyfish, don’t you ever dare go to … Antarctica. Yes, the continent of ice at the bottom of our world.
There you’ll find jellyfish with 12-foot tentacles, and also starfish that are two-foot wide.
Scientists who recently conducted the most comprehensive survey to date of New Zealand’s Antarctic waters were floored by the size of some specimens they found.
How could such sea creatures become so big under freezing water? How surprising. But if there’s one thing that should not surprise us anymore, it’s the fact that life always presents us with stunning surprises.
Giant sea spiders and huge sea snails were also found during the 50-day 2,000-mile voyage sponsored by New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research which ended last Thursday, March 20, 2008.
According to marine scientist Don Robertson cold temperatures, a small number of predators, high levels of oxygen in the sea water and longevity could explain the size of some specimens.
The journey through the Ross Sea also potentially turned up several new species, including as many as eight new mollusks, and other surprises.
Among the other surprises is the discovery of “fields” of sea lilies that stretched for hundreds of yards across the ocean floor.
The survey was part of the International Polar Year program involving 23 countries in 11 voyages to survey marine life and habitats around Antarctica. The program hopes to set benchmarks for determining the effects of global warming on Antarctica, researchers said.
Notes on photos:
In the first photo above, which was supplied by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, or NIWA, Benthic team members Sadie Mill (left) NIWA curatorial technician and Niki Davey, NIWA marine ecologist hold giant Macroptychaster sea star (starfish) measuring up to 60 cm across in Antarctic waters. (AP Photo/NZ IPY-CAML, John Mitchell)
In the other photo, Brent Wood (NIWA fisheries scientist, left) and Stefano Schiaparelli (Italian National Antarctic Museum taxonomist, right) examine an Antarctic toothfish