What animals live there?
Life in the ArcticAt the Arctic seafloor, many of the species have a strong resemblance to the populations seen in the Atlantic Ocean. These oceans are so well connected that as the Arctic Ocean gets warmer, a poleward shift of species especially from the Atlantic Ocean may occur, a process sometimes referred to as ‘Atlantification’. Periods of successive warmer winters have seen temperate populations move poleward but many disappear again if the temperatures drop again. These patterns however may be a warning of how communities will change if warming in these regions continues. Prehistoric looking Serolid isopod, most are found only in found in the Southern Ocean. © University of Southampton 2019.
Life in the AntarcticAs we see in the previous step, the Antarctic seafloor is much more isolated because of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which acts as a barrier for animals to cross. Much of the Antarctic seafloor is also much deeper, a consequence of millennia of carving from giant ice sheets which once protruded to the edge of the deep sea. There is also a higher chance of disturbance from huge icebergs the size of cities which can scour the seafloor at great depths, and destroy communities living in their path.The animals we see at the Antarctic seafloor often resemble deep sea communities, and there is a high abundance of soft bodied organisms, starfish, small shrimp, krill, sponges and brittle stars to name but a few. The biology of these animals is also highly adapted with long lived and slow growing species. Many Antarctic invertebrates have larger eggs than expected, and this extra energy for their offspring increases their chance of survival.Finding a home in the Antarctic can be tricky, especially if you cannot move around freely. Some of these species have adapted by taking up residence on the spines of sea urchins which allows them to get around. The urchins gather to spawn annually and their hitch hikers probably use this as an opportunity to find a mate or a new urchin to take hold of.
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