Images: Strange Life at Antarctic Seafloor

Snapshots of Biodiversity

(Image credit: Julian Gutt, Alfred Wegener Institute doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.198663)

Researchers have compiled a database of images and information collected from the Antarctic seafloor during various expeditions to the frozen continent. While the pictures are lovely to look at, they could also help scientists studying biodiversity in the pristine region and help policymakers decide how to protect its marine habitats.

Weddell Sea Wonders

(Image credit: Julian Gutt, Alfred Wegener Institute doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.691558)

Many of the images in the collection were taken at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, the large bay nestled in the frozen continent's coast from the Antarctic Peninsula east to the Coats Land region. This photo was snapped during an expedition in 1988.

Icefish

(Image credit: Julian Gutt, Alfred Wegener Institute)

An icefish caught on camera at the Antarctic seafloor

Icefish (Notothenioidei)

(Image credit: Julian Gutt, Alfred Wegener Institute doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.198695)

Icefish, like the one seen here, have a natural antifreeze chemical in their blood and body fluids that allow them to survive frigid water temperatures.

Cold-Loving Creatures

(Image credit: Julian Gutt, Alfred Wegener Institute doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.198695)

In 2000, an undersea rover captured this view from the bottom of the Weddell Sea.

Sea fans

(Image credit: Julian Gutt, Alfred Wegener Institute)

This picture shows hydrocorals also known as sea fans.

Icefish in Blue

(Image credit: Julian Gutt, Alfred Wegener Institute doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.666973)

Another view of an icefish — this one from the bottom of the eastern edge of the Weddell Sea, taken in 2003

Crabs Caught on Camera

(Image credit: Julian Gutt, Alfred Wegener Institute doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.691581)

This image belongs to a set photographs from 1989, taken at the bottom of the South Atlantic Ocean, not far from the remote Bouvet Island, at about 1,300 feet (400 meters) below sea level.

Weddell Sponges

(Image credit: Julian Gutt, Alfred Wegener Institute doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.319889)

This image from the bottom of the Weddell Sea was taken during an expedition in the 1990s.

Chilly Sea Sponges

(Image credit: Julian Gutt, Alfred Wegener Institute)

This picture shows a sea bed covered with glass sponges.