Native Village Youth and Education News

March 1, 2009 Issue 195 Volume 4

 

Same Species Found at Both Ends of Earth
Live Science Staff
Condensed by Native Village

Polar Seas:  8,000 miles may lie between the North and South Poles, but scientists have discovered that both poles have at least 235 species of creatures in common.  How most landed at both ends of our planet is a mystery.

Among the creatures calling both polar seas home are migrators such as grey whales and birds. But the researchers also found bipolar worms, crustaceans, and angelic snail-like pteropods.

Scientist also found evidence that cold water species are moving toward the poles to escape rising ocean temperatures. They've also captured dramatic photos of species such as ice-loving sand fleas and an antifreeze Antarctic fish who can withstand temperatures that would freeze other fish.

Biologists from several nations have braved 48-foot waves and frigid conditions to gather information for their Polar Sea census report. "The polar seas, far from being biological deserts, teem with an amazing quantity and variety of life," said researcher Ian Poiner,.

Researchers are also learning:
How polar seas act as incubators for life that may venture away from the poles as sea temperatures rise and fall.
 

How the migrations of some octopus colonies has coincided with Antarctic ice changes for over 30,000,000 years.
 

The Antarctic may regularly refresh the world's oceans with new creatures including sea spiders, isopods (crustaceans related to shrimp and crabs), and more. 

New species evolve when ice expansions gather around the south polar region. When the ice retreats, creatures radiate northward along the same pathways followed by the octopuses.

Smaller marine species are replacing larger ones in some Arctic waters.

The impact on the Arctic food web may be profound.
 

The scientists are gravely concerned about the polar seas' future.  "Only through the cooperation of 500 people from more than 25 countries could the daunting environmental challenges be overcome to produce research of such unprecedented scale and importance," Poiner said. "And humanity is only starting to understand the nature of these regions."

The National Science Foundation estimates between 5,000,000 - 10,000,000 species of life exist on the planet. Science has only identified 2,000,000

http://www.livescience.com/animals/090215-polar-species.html

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