Antarctic Research

Recently lots of exciting Antarctic research has been undertaken by researchers through the Census of Antarctic Marine Life programme and also by researchers from the UK.

CAML Expedition Reveals First Hints of Biological Change After Collapse of Polar Ice Shelves

Fifty-two marine explorers from 14 countries recently completed the first comprehensive biological survey of a 10,000 square kilometer portion of the Antarctic seabed during a 10-week expedition aboard the German research vessel Polarstern. They explored icy waters as deep as 850 meters off the Antarctic Peninsula - an area made suddenly accessible to exploration by the collapse of the Larsen A and B ice shelves, 12 and five years ago respectively. Among their findings were 15 potential new amphipod species, including one of the largest ever collected, four presumed new species of cnidarians, and deep-sea species at unusually shallow depths.

The voyage was one of 14 Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML) expeditions planned during International Polar Year (2007-2008). Says CAML leader Michael Stoddart of Australia, "What we learned from the Polarstern expedition is the tip of an iceberg, so to speak. Insights from this and CAML's upcoming International Polar Year voyages will shed light on how climate variations affect ice-affiliated species living in this region."

Photo: A new species of Shackletonia, an amphipod crustacean sampled near Elephant Island, Antarctic Pensisula. © C. d'Udekem, Royal Belgium Institute for Natural Sciences, 2007.
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