Finding fish and shrimp living under thick ice in Antarctica

When drilling a small hole in Antarctica, the scientists were stunned to see the fish and shrimp swimming in the eternal darkness at a depth of 740m below the ice.

When drilling a small hole in Antarctica, the scientists were stunned to see the fish and shrimp swimming in the eternal darkness at a depth of 740m below the ice.

Ross Powell, a polar geological expert at Northern Illinois University in the US, and colleagues found the exotic fish when they drilled holes in the Ross ice shelf , which is about the same size as France, to study the water flows from the west of Antarctica. They swim in the water layer between the ice and the sea floor. The height of the aquifer is only about 10m, while the temperature is -2 degrees C, Scientific American reports.

Picture 1 of Finding fish and shrimp living under thick ice in Antarctica Photo 1 of Finding fish and shrimp living under thick ice in Antarctica
The bodies of fish are translucent so the observer can see their organs.(Photo: Ross Powell).

"I was surprised, because we all thought that living animals could not live in an environment with almost no food, very cold and unfavorable for life," Ross said.

The team saw 20 to 30 fish swimming in the water below the ice so they brought the camera down to record them. Their bodies are translucent, pinkish-brown, so humans can see organs. Their average body length is about 15cm.

In addition, the team found two other smaller fish species (including a black species and an orange species), a red shrimp and several invertebrate species.

Picture 2 of Finding fish and shrimp living under thick ice in Antarctica Photo 2 of Finding fish and shrimp living under thick ice in Antarctica
Location of Ross ice shelf (red X) on the map.It is adjacent to the Ross Sea.(Graphics: Wikimedia).

"Clearly an animal population exists here," Ross said.

According to experts, it is possible that animals beneath the thick ice in Antarctica eat plankton that drift from the Ross Sea. Bacteria are also another source of their food. Chemical energy from the Earth's core helps bacteria and other microorganisms exist in environments where sunlight cannot reach.

Currently Ross and his colleagues are continuing to study fish and shrimp to learn about their species.