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Photo Essay
Under Antarctic Ice
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 ©2003 Norbert Wu/

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Jellies, or medusae, were among the most prominent midwater organisms that I saw under the ice at McMurdo. The huge jellyfish (Desmonema glaciale) has a bell that can reach more than a meter across and just a few, distinctive, cord-like tentacles. I constantly encountered medusae drifting along with the prevailing current, but the larger ones such as D. glaciale, which occurs near the surface, are active swimmers.

Here, marine ecologist Dale Stokes captures one on video. This jelly has had its thirty-foot long tentacles stripped away by contact with the seafloor and the numerous predators there.

--Norbert Wu