When people think about Antarctica, they often think of cold, ice, and not many living things. But, scientists recently discovered that miles below the sea near Antarctica, marine life is flourishing near underwater 'hot spots' created by geothermal activity.
Scientists delving into the world of those 'hot spots' said they made discovery after discovery, uncovering new creatures at every turn. For example, they found crabs with hairy arms and hairy chests called yeti crabs that feed on bacteria coming out of the 'hot spots."
Scientists used to think that marine communities needed sunlight to thrive, but since the 1970s, they have been discovering more and more examples of marine life that lives in complete darkness. Most of those species feed on bacteria that grow there, or on each other, sustaining a completely unique underwater food chain.
"There's so few vehicles to do this and there's so much ocean floor, that it's really not a surprise when you find something amazing and something new. It's just a matter of getting to these places." - Mark Schrope, former oceanographer
"But everywhere they went, one of the scientists described it as just discovery after discovery. I can't even remember the count on the number of species, but there were these barnacles that grow in clumps. There were sea anemones. There was a starfish that goes around and eats some of this stuff. There was an albino-looking octopus. There was just a whole range of species that were all new." - Mark Schrope, former oceanographer
1. What is a species?
2. What do you think of when you think of Antarctica? What sorts of animal life do you think survives there?
3. How do scientists identify new species?
1. Describe the food chain of animals that live in communities near the ‘hot spots’ discussed in the video. Draw a diagram if it helps.
2. Why do you think the ocean is so unexplored?
3. Why does the heat around the 'hot spots' on the Antarctic sea floor contribute to life there?