Discovered: Antarctica's underwater 'lost world'

Using automated submersibles outfitted with cameras, explorers were able to snag a rare glimpse of sunless life surrounding the deep ocean's hydrothermal vents

A never before seen species of octopus, among other creatures, was discovered off the coast of Antarctica.
(Image credit: YouTube)

The video: Thick clusters of hairy yeti crabs, carnivorous seven-pronged starfish, and a new species of octopus were among the creatures discovered living near deep-sea vents off the coast of Antarctica, in what scientists are calling a "lost world" (see a video below). Camera-equipped submersibles captured hordes of strange, newly discovered creatures roaming in the dark waters 2,700 yards beneath the surface — a place where sunlight is incapable of penetrating and energy is instead provided by hydrothermal cracks in the sea floor. "We were absolutely stunned to see the animal communities," says expedition leader Alex Rogers. "They were so different from the hydrothermal vents seen elsewhere."

The reaction: While deep-sea springs around the world typically play host to "unusual life forms," what's most intriguing about this mission is what scientists didn't find, says The Australian. In other oceans, animals like giant worms, crabs, clams, and shrimp have all been found near these chimney-like vents, commonly found near volcanoes. Here there was none of that, suggesting that communities living near deep-sea vents are "unable to migrate to other parts of the globe's sea floor." Essentially, it means that vent biogeography is "far more complex than we had realized," marine biologist Jon Copley tells Nature, and the ocean is endlessly more diverse than we could have imagined. Have a look:

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