Polar bears and penguins may live at opposite poles, but a census of marine life has found hundreds of identical species thriving in both the arctic and Antarctic. It's got explorers around the world buzzing about the incredible under-the-ice finds.
Earth's unique, forbidding ice oceans of the arctic and Antarctic have just revealed a treasure trove of secrets to marine life explorers. They were especially surprised to find at least 235 species live in both polar seas, despite the huge distance between them.
San fleas, swimming snails, krill and jellyfish have been hiding in chilly depths for years, but not anymore. The scientists found marine life that both poles share in common, including crustaceans and angelic snail-like teropods.
These discoveries open a host of future research questions about where they originated and how they wound up at both ends of the earth. DNA analysis is underway to confirm whether the species are indeed identical.
Among many other findings, the scientists also documented evidence of cold water loving species shifting towards both poles to escape rising ocean temperatures.
The findings are the result of a series of landmark, often perilous, voyages conducted during the past year. Biologists braved waves of up to 48 feet while getting to and from the Antarctic, while their arctic colleagues often worked under the watchful eye o fan armed lookout to protect them from polar bears.
One of the discoveries is that a species of cold water snail is migrating southward as ocean temperatures rise further north. They also theorize that the Antarctic also regularly refreshes the world's oceans with new varieties of crusteaceans.
Field work will continue this summer, including a cruise to the Beaufort Sea to investigate the potentially important role sea ice ridges could play as a refuge for marine life if ice loss continues long term.
Because of these new findings, researchers say they've filled in major blank spots on the arctic map and continue to add more, though big unobserved areas certainly remain for them to explore.