Whenever people think of Antarctica, the images of stunning icebergs, glaciers, and plenty of snow likely come to their minds. Additionally, whenever they imagine Antarctic life, it probably includes pictures of penguins, seals, skuas, and the krill that are found in the Southern Ocean.
However, many other fascinating discoveries have been made in Antarctica over the decades. Scientists are slowly unraveling one mystery at a time in a land that is full of extraordinary creatures.
10. Antarctic Feather Star
This Antarctic feather star (aka Promachocrinus kerguelensis) is part of the Crinoid family. These animals live on the bottom of the Southern Ocean near the coast of the continent. This particular feather star prefers to live in cold waters. However, that is not the only trait that makes this creature different from many other types of feather stars.
Promachocrinus kerguelensis appears to be denser and more feathery than it really is. The creature’s 20 arms filter food from the water and help it to swim when it wants to settle in another area. They swim quite gracefully because they are well-coordinated whenever they are moving.
9. The Comb Jelly
Comb jellies (aka ctenophores) are soft, transparent animals that use eight plates or comb rows of cilia to paddle through the waters off the coast of Antarctica. They are the largest creature known to swim this way. Comb jellies come in different shapes and sizes. Some are bell-shaped, while others are spherical.
Whenever light strikes their paddles, they emit different colors, which give them a unique appearance. They are also bioluminescent, which produces a blue-green light. Comb jellies live mostly on the ocean surface, where it is more acidic and warmer due to higher levels of carbon dioxide, and they thrive on that.
Like jellyfish, ctenophores are predators. Instead of stinging cells, however, comb jellies use their sticky secretions to catch small animals. Fair warning: Don’t pick them up no matter how appealing they look. You’ll regret it.