Friday, July 29, 2005

Ice oceans reveal new life

Explorations of "ice oceans" and discovering never-before-seen life - I just had to look closer at this story released this afternoon - even though I am off on a science tangent not all that related to medical discovery.

A historic expedition of Census of Marine Life explorers to the earth's most northern reaches has revealed a surprising density and diversity of Arctic Ocean creatures, some believed new to science, the scientists report.

Sheltered for millennia under a lid of ice currently one to 20 meters thick, unexpectedly high numbers and varieties of large Arctic jellies, squid, cod, and other animals have been found thriving in the extreme cold.

Scientists sailed aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy and "returned to port with thousands of specimens from the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and the Canada Basin, a vast bowl walled by steep ridges and lidded with ice," say the Census of Marine Life explorers.

“Modern technology has opened a window on this amazing world for the first time,” says scientist Dr. Russ Hopcroft of University of Alaska Fairbanks. “The imagery obtained of the mid-water and seafloor shows many life forms, such as soft bodied zooplankton, deep sea cucumbers and soft corals. The few explorers in this area before us had no adequate tools to collect or see these creatures."

This story has alot to do with marine evolution and something to do with concerns about the affects of global warming, as these scientists who traveled to the Artic say the planet's polar regions are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of global climate change.

And, again, catching the excitement from a scientist: "What continues to facinate and motivate us all is the chance to record species never known before, to accurately map their range and understand their rapidly-changing habitat."

Be sure to check out the link above for more fantastic photographs.

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