Video Robot spots predatory worms floating slime balls under Arctic ice

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—There’s a food web thriving under the Arctic ice—and an awful lot of it is slimy. This new video of life thriving in the murky cold comes courtesy of Nereid Under Ice (NUI), a lightweight, remotely operated vehicle connected to its surface ship by only a hair-thin fiber-optic tether. Scientists presented the first data from NUI’s maiden voyage here today at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting. NUI took its first dip in the Arctic in July, exploring the under–sea ice environment and relaying environmental data and video back to its operators in real time. There have been hints that there’s more biological productivity in the Arctic Ocean than once suspected (perhaps helped along by climate change): In 2012, scientists reported seeing massive blooms of algae proliferating under the sea ice. Now, the robot’s first findings are already helping scientists piece together more of this previously hidden under-ice food web, including more evidence of the under-ice algae, as well as tiny copepods, ctenophores (jellyfish), predatory marine worms called arrow worms, and abundant amounts of large floating slime balls, known to scientists as larvaceans. What links these lower members of the web to seals and polar bears isn’t yet clear; scientists saw no evidence of the most obvious missing element—fish—during the expedition.(Video credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)last_img read more