First Inventory of Polar Life Conducted

December 1, 2008

South Orkney Islands (Chattahbox) – British and German scientists have recently put together the first comprehensive list of all life living in the South Orkney Islands. The results were, to say the least, surprising. For years it has been believed that the frozen area hold little life, particularly relating to sea creatures, due to the climate and lack of usual resources. But as it turns out, the small island off the coast of Antarctica is rich with more life then ever thought possible.

More then 1,200 species were found, including five that had not been previously discovered, making this find a virtual treasure of modern science. But it wasn’t the land that held these wonders. Of the new species, they could all be categorized as a type of sea moss (bryozoans) or wood lice (isopods), as well as one genusm aking this a huge find. Over 1,000 of the creatures found were located beneath the icy sea, including molluscs and sea urchins, species usually found in much warmer climates.

“Below the surface of the sea, it is an incredibly rich environment,” says Dr David Barnes, one of the scienists working on the project. “Diving there is a bit like diving on a coral reef.”

This wouldn’t be the first time new species and surprising find have been located at the South Orkney Islands. Being one of the inspirations for Darwin’s theories of natural selection, they have long been considered one of the most fascinating, and well studied areas in the world, with frequent scientific expeditions being launched there. But while it can be added to one of many discoveries in the area, it is certain that it won’t be the last, and I for one look forward to seeing what other bits of information we will someday be able to glean by the life discovered there.


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