The Deepest Dive in Antarctica Reveals a Sea Floor Teeming With Life

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No one really knows what’s in the deep ocean in Antarctica.

Now we have the technology to reach into the ocean depths, we accompanied scientist and deep-sea explorer Jon Copley and became the first to descend to 1000 meters underwater in Antarctica for Blue Planet II. The exotic creatures we found there will astonish you.

What new species of animals did the scientists discover during their dive to the Southern Ocean floor?

In February of 2018, a team of scientists dove to the bottom of the Southern Ocean, just off the coast of Antarctica. The team, led by deep-sea biologist Dr. Jon Copley, aimed to explore a part of the ocean that had never been seen before, and what they found was astonishing.

Using a remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) called the Camperoo, the team made a series of dives to depths over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). As they explored this virtually pristine area of the ocean floor, they were amazed to discover a wealth of life.

The Camperoo’s cameras captured images of animals that had never been seen before, including species of starfish, sea spiders, and jellyfish. The scientists also saw an abundance of sponges, some of which were over a meter (3.3 feet) tall. The diversity of life in this once-inaccessible part of the ocean was astonishing.

In addition to the new species, the team noted signs of the effects of climate change on the ecosystem. They observed that some of the sponges were growing in unusual shapes, likely due to changes in the ocean’s temperature or chemistry.

The scientists also found evidence of human impacts on the ecosystem in the form of deep-sea fishing nets and plastic litter. This highlights the need for international agreements to protect these fragile areas of the ocean from overfishing and pollution.

The discovery of such a diverse and thriving ecosystem in the Southern Ocean is groundbreaking. It demonstrates the importance of protecting the world’s oceans, which cover over 70% of the planet’s surface and provide vital services such as regulating the climate and providing food and livelihoods for millions of people.

The scientists who made this historic dive hope that their work will inspire others to explore and protect these important parts of the ocean. As Dr. Copley put it, “we have so much to learn from the deep sea, and we need to make sure that we don’t destroy it before we’ve even had a chance to understand it.”

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