Previous assumptions and theories have been thwarted by a new study which has uncovered that marine life thrives in the dark and cold of Arctic winters, with the freezing waters bursting with activity and biodiversity.
- It was previously thought that the marine species ‘go to sleep’ during the polar night
- Researchers discovered that numerous types of marine life actually thrive in the cold waters
- The findings might influence future development of industries in the Arctic Ocean
It’s an incredible find during a time where most assumed that the entire ecosystem went on ‘sleep mode’ during the harsh winters.
Researchers from the Arctic University in Norway, and the University Centre in Svalbard have gathered a team of 100 scientists to investigate the cold depths of the Svalbard archipelago. They conducted an extensive study over three winters on a fjord in the icy waters after a chance encounter.
Jørgen Berge from Arctic University and a team of researchers were on a boat in the middle of a Svalbard fjord, enjoying the starry night above when they noted the same spectacle of lights going on beneath the darkened waters below. Bioluminescent organisms glowed and proved that the ecosystem was not at all sleeping during the winter.
Previous assumptions have been made due to a lack of research during the colder months within the Arctic, when it was thought that most marine life migrates south to escape the harsh temperatures. However, over the course of the next three years, Berge and another ninety-nine scientists took to study the biodiversity in the Arctic Ocean.
They found that the population of life blooms when it was thought to be resting. In fact, some species, such as copepods and other types of zooplankton were active in reproducing during the freezing months, and others were even more lively than they were in the summer.
According to Berge, this forces a change in the way science has considered marine ecosystems during the polar night, possibly providing it with new areas of research.
Ranging from glowing krill, whelks, amphipods, crabs and other shallow-water scavengers, all thrived within the darkness and cold depths of the Arctic Ocean during the winter. Seabirds were even more surprising, proving their ability to find food within the pitch black when it was believed they would sleep until light would once again break through the water.
The study shifted the belief that the polar night sees to the ecosystem resting, and instead showed that it’s actually hiding a world of “activity, beauty and ecosystem importance” that might prove crucial in future researches.
This will be particularly important in today’s age, when climate change is of both political and commercial significance.
With the ice melting in the Arctic Ocean, industries could be enabled to develop within the waters even during the harsh winters, but these new findings might affect future decisions in the cold region.
Image source: ocean.si.edu