Explorers find Brittlestar City

A team of researchers has discovered millions of slender, sea star-like creatures - called linkurl:brittlestars;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/19856/ - thriving on a submerged oceanic ridge in the icy waters between New Zealand and Antarctica. The researchers, Australians and New Zealanders participating in the linkurl:Macquarie Ridge Expedition,;http://censeam.niwa.co.nz/outreach/censeam_cruises/macridge linkurl:announced;http://www.coml.org/medres/medres77.htm their discovery on

By | May 20, 2008

A team of researchers has discovered millions of slender, sea star-like creatures - called linkurl:brittlestars;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/19856/ - thriving on a submerged oceanic ridge in the icy waters between New Zealand and Antarctica. The researchers, Australians and New Zealanders participating in the linkurl:Macquarie Ridge Expedition,;http://censeam.niwa.co.nz/outreach/censeam_cruises/macridge linkurl:announced;http://www.coml.org/medres/medres77.htm their discovery on Sunday (May 18) and said that the colony of brittlestars stretches 100 square kilometers and exists thanks to the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which sweeps food particles past the sedentary filter feeders at the swift pace of 4 kilometers per hour. They released several linkurl:photos;http://www.coml.org/medres/censeam/macquarie_ridge_images_public.htm and a linkurl:video;http://www.coml.org/medres/medres77.htm#censeamvid of what they dubbed "Brittlestar City" and said that it was probably the first large aggregation of brittlestars ever found atop a seamount, which are usually dominated by corals or sponges. The team aims to better understand Antarctic current dynamics and seamount ecology especially in the face of linkurl:climate change.;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/daily/54049/ They towed special sleds to collect seamount organisms from late march to late April, and thousands of specimens were gathered from eight seamounts over the month-long mission. Taxonomists from all over the world will identify the specimens, a process that may take years to complete.
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