Antarctic explorers find thriving sea creature community under the frozen landscape 

Scientists exploring the frigid waters of Antarctica uncovered a diverse and thriving sea creature community nestled beneath the frozen cover.

As part of the Australian Antarctic Program, researchers drilled through a roughly 5-foot-thick ice sheet and plunged a camera-equipped ROV into the minus 30-degree Fahrenheit sea.

14 PHOTOS
Under the sea in Antarctica
See Gallery
Under the sea in Antarctica

Weddell seal and pup swimming underwater in Antarctica.

(Doug Allan via Getty Images)

A cable portrudes from the ice wall at Explorers Cover, New Harbor, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. The cable is used for the Remotely Operable Micro-Environmental Observatory (ROMEO), an underwater camera. Connected to onshore equipment and linked by radio to

(SCIENCE SOURCE via Getty Images)

The Marbled Rockcod (Notothenia rossii) copes with the icy waters of Antarctica by means of a biological antifreeze in its body fluids, Antarctica.

(David Fleetham/Visuals Unlimited, Inc. via Getty Images)

Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), key species in the Antarctic ecosystem. Grows to 6 cm and occurs in densities ranging up to 30,000 in a cubic metre. 

(Auscape via Getty Images)

Unidentified large jellyfish in brash ice, Cierva Cove, Antarctica, Southern Ocean, Polar Regions.

(Michael Nolan / robertharding via Getty Images)

Icefish in Antarctica have no scales or haemoglobin, so their blood is white.

(Doug Allan/Nature Picture Library via Getty Images)

Antarctic Sea star (Odontaster validus) in Antarctica.

(Jonathan Bird via Getty Images)

Antarctic Sea urchin, (Sterechinus neumayeri) with camouflage attached, Antarctica.

(Jonathan Bird via Getty Images)

Antarctic Limpet (Nacella concinna) in Antarctica.

(Jonathan Bird via Getty Images)

Barbed plunder fish in Antarctic underwater.

(izanbar via Getty Images)

Antarctica, Cuverville Island, Underwater view of Comb Jellyfish swimming beneath ice along plankton-filled shallow water.

(Paul Souders via Getty Images)

Orange yellow anemone surrounded by brown algae, Antarctica.

(Mathieu Meur/Stocktrek Images via Getty Images)

Two yellow sea stars and white worm strands, Antarctica.

(Mathieu Meur/Stocktrek Images via Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

According to a report released by the Australian Antarctic Division, the footage revealed a vibrant mix of, "...coconut-shaped sponges, dandelion-like worms, pink encrusting algae and spidery starfish."

Dr. Glenn Johnstone, one of the researchers, said, "Occasionally an iceberg may move around and wipe out an unlucky community, but mostly the sea ice provides protection from the storms that rage above, making it a relatively stable environment in which biodiversity can flourish."

Though the underwater inhabitants are shielded from harm due to storms, they may not be so fortunate when faced with aggressive ocean acidification, a byproduct of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Water-dwellers in the Antarctic are especially vulnerable to such changes and are being studied for potential insights on what the future may hold for other sea populations.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.