Saturday, March 22, 2008

Giant sea creatures found in Antarctic

Sadie Mills and Niki Davey hold a giant sea starfish (top) and Sadie Mills with a sea cucumber the crew named a 'sea pig'
Scientists have found that Antarctic waters harbour sea-creatures of startling proportions, with giant-sized specimens surprising researchers during a major survey of New Zealand's Antarctic seas that ended this week. Huge sea snails, jellyfish with tentacles up to 4 metres long and starfish the size of large dinner plates were some of the species found during research vessel Tangaroa's 50-day, 2,000-mile voyage in the Ross Sea, New Zealand marine scientist Don Robertson said. "I would say there will be hundreds" of previously unknown organisms and "a lot of new species" among the 30,000 specimens collected, Robertson said.Cold temperatures, low predator numbers, high levels of oxygen in the seawater and even longevity could explain the size of some specimens, said Robertson, a science manager with New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, or NIWA.Robertson's team said their Ross Sea survey was the most comprehensive so far.

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