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Antarctica: researchers discover world's largest breeding area

Listen to this article Marine biologists exploring the inaccessible depths of Antarctica’s Weddell Sea have discovered the largest fish breeding area ever located. Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Centre for Polar and Marine Research have made an amazing discovery during their research work in the Antarctic. At the bottom of the Weddell SeaIn the
Published: January 18, 2022 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 23:54
Antarctica: researchers discover world’s largest breeding area
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Marine biologists exploring the inaccessible depths of Antarctica’s Weddell Sea have discovered the largest fish breeding area ever located.

Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Centre for Polar and Marine Research have made an amazing discovery during their research work in the Antarctic. At the bottom of the Weddell SeaIn the vicinity of the Filchner Shelf Glacier, they discovered a huge breeding area for fish of the species Naopagetopsis ionah(Jonah’s icefish).

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Naopagetopsis Ionah breeding area The researchers were conducting observations of the impact of climate change on local ecosystems. However, by complete coincidence, the camera eye with which they were exploring sea depthsThe view at the bottom was extraordinary… a huge breeding areawhose size biologists have estimated at 240 km2!

Unusual discovery

Each nest is about 2.5 feet in diameter and much larger than the fish themselves. In total, the research team detected about 100,000 nests during sonar scans. As many as 16,000 of these were captured by biologists in photographs and video recordings. Scientists from the Alfred Wegner Institute believe that the number of nests in the colony could be as high as 60 million.

The thought that such a huge breeding area of Naopagetopsis iona fish in the Weddell Sea was previously undiscovered is utterly fascinating. Previously, only a few clusters of nests or individual fish had been found in this area. It can be compared to finding a rich vein of gold after years of discovering only a few nuggets said Autun Purser, a biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Centre for Polar and Marine Research.

Naopagetopsis Ionah fish in the Weddell Sea Fish Naopagetopsis ionah were spotted in February 2021 by a camera towed by the Polarstern research vessel in the Weddell Sea. The interdisciplinary group of scientists were conducting research tracking carbon movements in the ocean and the potential impact of climate change on the local ecosystem. During their research, they came across first one nest and then another and another. Moments later, they realised they were above the largest breeding area of ryb that has ever been discovered.

The results of their research have been published by the scientific team in the specialist scientific journal Current Biology. They are now working to establish aMarine Protected Area (MPA) at the site.

Photo: AWI OFOBS Team

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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