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Hidden marine life discovered

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Wildlife

Ice Fish

Chionodraco hamatus, one of the Antartic’s ice fish, can withstand temperatures that freeze the blood of all other types of fish. This finger-lengthed juvenile was photographed during the CEAMARC 2008 expedition aboard the Umitaka Maru to the Antarctic.

Credit: Russ Hopcroft, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life.

Swimming snail

Up to 4 cm long, the shell-less pteropod or swimming snail, Clione limacina, found in both Arctic and Antarctic waters, preys exclusively on its fellow shelled pteropods, such as Limacina helicinia.

Credit: Russ Hopcroft, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life.

Limacina helicini

The bean-sized swimming snail, Limacina helicinia, occurs in both Arctic and Antarctic waters. It spins a mucus-net off its paddle-like foot-wings to trap algae and other small particles on which it feeds.

Credit: Russ Hopcroft, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life.

Sand flea

Sand-fleas such as Hyperoche capucinus, are common predators swimming in polar waters. This specimen, about the width of a finger, was photographed during the CEAMARC 2008 expedition aboard the Umitaka Maru to the Antarctic.

Credit: Russ Hopcroft, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life.

Nemertean

About 3 cm long, the nemertean Pelagonemertes rollestoni, hunts for zooplankton prey that it will harpoon with a dart attached to the tongue coiled within it. It yellow stomach reaches out to feed all parts of the body.

Credit: Russ Hopcroft, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life.

Arctic krill

Arctic krill, Thysanoessa raschii, was found in high densities under sea ice in the Arctic and its marginal seas, where they feed seasonally on algae associated with the sea ice, similar to the behavior of the Antarctic Krill.

Credit: Russ Hopcroft, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life.

amphipod

Mimonectes sphaericus is a commensial amphipod crustacean living upon jellyfish and their kin in both the Arctic and Antarctic. The large sword-like antennae only occur on males.

Credit: Russ Hopcroft, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life.

sea angel

Three centimetres long, the ghost-like sea angel Platybrachium antarcticum, flies through the deep Antarctic waters hunting the shelled pteropods (another type of snail) on which it feeds.

Credit: Russ Hopcroft, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life.

gelatinous zooplankton

Census of Marine Life Arctic researchers have discovered more than 50 gelatinous zooplankton living in the arctic, about a quarter of which are new to the Arctic Ocean or new to science.

Credit: Russ Hopcroft, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Census of Marine Life.

Sand fleas

Sand fleas (amphipod crustaceans) under nearshore ice in the Beaufort Sea. Ice-associated amphipods are a major food source for Arctic cod, in turn the main prey for ice seals.

Credit: Shawn Harper, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

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CHICAGO: Marine life hidden in the depths of the forbidding Arctic and Antarctic seas is much richer than scientists had previously thought, according to a scientific census.

And in a surprising result a total of 235 species appear to be shared by the two seas, even though they are literally a world apart, according to the new Census of Marine Life.

The rich shared sea life was a huge surprise given the challenging living conditions and the 11,000 kilometers which separate the opposite ends of the Earth.

The shared species include grey whales, worms, birds, crustaceans and somewhat snail-like pterapods, according to the study released Sunday, which added that further DNA testing was underway to confirm if they were indeed identical.

"The polar seas, far from being biological deserts, teem with an amazing quantity and variety of life," said Dr. Ian Pointer, chair of the census' scientific steering committee.

"Humanity is only starting to understand the nature of these regions," he added.

The census so far has identified 7,500 sea species in the Antarctic and 5,500 in the Arctic, drawing on data from more than a million locations.

Marine fauna worldwide is thought to include 230,000 to 240,000 species.

"Antarctica is a cradle of life for polar species. In particular, the research shows it is an evolutionary garden for octopus, sea spiders and other bizarre deep sea creatures," said Rob Nicoll, WWF-Australia Antarctica and
Southern Ocean Initiative Manager, in a press statement.

"It’s yet another reason why the world's governments need to commit to deep emissions cuts at the United Nations Climate Change Conference being held in Copenhagen this December," Mr Nicoll said. "Otherwise, scientific expeditions like this will simply create a list of species in our oceans that will perish due to
climate change."

The census was launched in 2000 and the final results are due to be published in October 2010.

with AFP