While exploring the underside of the Ross Ice shelf in Antarctica, a team of researchers associated with the Antarctic Geological Drilling Program (ANDRILL), discovered that the remarkable “fuzzy” texture of the ice, as viewed from below in images taken by a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV), was caused by large numbers of a new species of sea anemonae, Edwardsiella andrillae. Researchers found these organisms in two distinct locations on the ice shelf, in areas where the ice was 250-260 M (820-850 ft) thick and water depth below 40m (130 ft). The anemones live upside down with most of their body burrowed into the ice and their tentacles hanging down into the water column. In their contracted form, the body column of collected individuals measured between 16-20mm (0.6-0.8 inches).
Edwardsiella is a genus containing five other species of anemones, all coastal species and most from the Northern Hemisphere, in the family of burrowing anemones Edwardsiidae. Species in this family are found in a diversity of extreme environments, including deep trenches and hypersaline estuaries. Edwardsiella andrillae is the only anemone known to live in ice; other Antarctic anemones have been found, but only living on substrates below anchor ice on the sea floor. Future explorations are planned to learn more about E. andrillae’s physiological adaptations to their extreme cold environment, and mechanisms for creating their ice burrows.
(Daly, Rack and Zook 2013; Lee 2014; Wikipedia 2013)
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