The researchers drilled a hole through more than 2,500 feet of ice and sent a special camera to film below the Antarctic ice. They were very surprised to see that there was a large variety of fish and other crustaceans dwelling at such depths.
These creatures have developed ways to survive the most difficult natural environments on Earth, known as the Ross Ice Shelf, 530 miles from the ocean.
According to one of the authors of the study, Slawek Tulaczyk, this extreme environment is similar to that found on Europa, Jupiter’s icy moon.
This is the first time scientists have ever drilled holes through the ice shelf to reach the grounding line, which is known to mark the transition from land to sea.
In order to achieve this, the researchers used a drill of hot water to melt the ice. They started drilling on January 8 and found marine life on January 16. The scientists used the same drill as the one used when exploring the subglacial lake, Lake Whillans, back in 2013, when they found microbial life.
After drilling the ice, the scientists used a remote camera to explore the depths and discovered different species of fish and other creatures known as amphipods, which appeared to be very curious about the scientists’ filming device.
The fish appeared to be pink colored and measured approximately 8 inches long. According to the researchers, this was the first time they’ve ever discovered any marine life this far south.
However, the sea floor did not show any forms of living creatures and it appeared covered in rocks. The scientists explained that these rocks probably melted out the ice sheet due to the fact that they constantly pelt the seafloor. This prevents any forms of life from existing in such an environment.
These stones may help sea creatures due to the fact that they deliver special nutrients in an environment where plankton cannot survive.
The temperature of the sea water at the grounding line was 28 degrees Fahrenheit and scientists found marine life form at approximately 33 feet below.
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