Quirks & Quarks

Fish Under Antarctic Ice

Researchers drilling through 750 meters of Antarctic Ice find fish.
Unidentified fish captured on camera below 750M of ice (Reed Scherer (NIU))
Scientists drilling through the Antarctic ice cap, at the point where it lifts off the ground and begins to float, were stunned to see fish deep under the ice.

They were drilling at the "grounding line" where ice meets rock and ocean, more than 500 kilometres from open water. The ice there is still three-quarters of a kilometre thick, and under that ice, they found just a thin layer of water on a gently sloping beach. It's a barren and dark environment.

But according to Dr. Ross Powell, a Glacial Geologist from Northern Illinois University, and one of the leaders of the drilling expedition, when they lowered a rover, several small, and so far unidentified, fish approached to investigate.

They weren't prepared to catch the fish, but they hope analysis of sediment and water samples might help explain how the fish can survive, and what it might be feeding on.

Related Links

- WISSARD Antarctic drilling program blog
- US National Science Foundation release
Scientific American story