Antarctica breakthrough: Bizarre creatures ‘like nothing seen before’ discovered below ice

Expedition Antarctica took to the waters for a 50-day voyage across the Southern Ocean and beyond the frozen desert. On board New Zealand’s research vessel RV Tangaroa, an international team used state-of-the-art technology to scan the seabed. The Aegis imaging system allowed scientists to capture fascinated images of an unchartered world.

While the mission is still ongoing, "The Secrets of Antarctica" was released on YouTube documenting their journey.


The narrator said: “Wind and currents keep this part of the Ross Sea ice-free in the summer, so voyage leader John Mitchell can breathe easier.


“While the sea stays calm and free of ice, the team prepares to plunge into an alien world.


“For the first time, these scientists will get to see what’s down there courtesy of a deep-toned imaging system they call Aegis, custom-made for this type of deep-sea exploration.


“Its high-definition video and stills cameras will act as the team’s eyes and this high pressure, low-light environment.


“No one has actually field-tested the unit in such icy conditions before, but it’s too late to think about that now.”


The series went on to follow the scientists as they lowered the technology below the surface for the first time.


It added: “Like an explorer dispatched to a foreign world, the imaging system begins its fact-finding mission and scientists hold their breath.


“Nobody really knows what’s down here.


“To marine biologists, this is big, like the first Moonwalk.


“As the live video images come up from the seabed, the scientists log what they see and strain to find things they’ve never seen before.”


Excited by what they saw, the team decided to carry out several trawls of the waters to get a first-hand look at the marine life.


The documentary explained in 2019: “They will trawl for an hour, the length of a videotape.


“Giving the team their first tantalising image of polar marine life in perpetual nighttime.


“There’s quite a lot of fragments of things here on that.


“Now they’ve seen the creatures on the video they want to get their hands on them and for that they need nets.”


The nets brought back a variety of weird-looking creatures, leaving the team stunned.


The series continued: “The Antarctic toothfish is one of the giants of the marine ecosystem and it is harvested by the thousands.


“If it disappears from the ocean, more than just dinner is at stake, it could mean an ecosystem on the brink of collapse.


“This tells the crew that all is well down below.


“Sponges, among the most primitive sea animals, have no nervous or digestive systems, they feed by filtering water through their pores.


“The trawl also brought up an exotic specimen that weaves its body out of silica.


“Snailfish are also poorly understood, and they may have found a new species.”

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