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The Antarctic may appear almost lifeless above the frozen ocean surface but below is a rich, varied, and complex community of species shaped by dramatic past geological, oceanographic and climate changes. Home to around twenty thousand species, Antarctica’s marine life is specially adapted to the coldest ocean on Earth. The recent discovery of filter feeding animals on a rock beneath almost a kilometre of floating Antarctic ice and 260 kilometres from the open water has surprised even seasoned Antarctic marine biologists.

The British Antarctic Survey drilled a hole through 400m of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf situated in the Weddell Sea, dropped equipment a further 500m through the pitch-black waters beneath and found a community of sea sponges and other animals thriving on rocks. This discovery has reset previous expectations about where and how animals can survive in extreme conditions and presented opportunities to learn new technologies and survival techniques.

In his fascinating and wide-ranging presentation, Dr Griffiths will explore the biodiversity of this vast frozen continent, which continues to present us with new and revealing surprises from above and beneath the ice.

This talk was organised by the East of England regional committee.


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