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Russian Scientists in Antarctica battle Organism 46b, Antarctic Creature, Lake Vostok Octopus


David Morrison on Lake Vostok

Dr. David Morrison discusses the implications of research possibilities at Lake Vostok, one of the largest subglacial lakes located over two miles beneath the ice in Antarctica. The lake has been covered by ice for about 25 million years. A team of Russian scientists recently reached the surface of the lake after nearly 20 years of drilling.

Scientific Coup, Russians Reach Antarctic Lake

After more than two decades of drilling in Antarctica, Russian scientists have reached a gigantic freshwater lake hidden under miles of ice for some 20 million years. It may hold life from the distant past and clues to the search for life on other planets

Micro-sub Explores Buried Antarctic Lake

NASA/JPL researcher Alberto Behar joins an international Antarctic
expedition to investigate a subglacial lake.

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Antarctic vent octopus

Communities of species previously unknown to science have been discovered on the seafloor near Antarctica, clustered in the hot, dark environment surrounding hydrothermal vents.

Working from the Royal Research Ship James Cook, scientists discovered new species of yeti crab, starfish, barnacles, sea anemones, and potentially an octopus.

Discovering Life Under Antarctica’s Ice

Drew Lohrer is the principal investigator at Science Under the Ice, a project dedicated to studying the resilience of organisms under Antarctica’s frozen ocean. Along with his team of nine scientists, Lohrer dives deep to collect data on sea organisms and deploy incubation chambers along the seafloor. The team of scientists and technicians endure life in one of the most extreme places on Earth, all in the name of discovering the effects of climate change on our marine biodiversity.


This story is a part of our Planet Earth series. From mammals to insects and birds to reptiles, we share this great big world with all manner of creatures, large and small. Come with us to faraway places as we explore our great big planet and meet some of its wildest inhabitants.

Got a story idea for us? Shoot us an email at hey [at] GreatBigStory [dot] com

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Micro-sub Explores Buried Antarctic Lake Whillans | Video

A small robotic submarine the size of a baseball bat helped researchers get their first look at an Antarctic lake trapped under thick glacial ice. For the first time water from a subglacial revealed signs of life when samples were taken in Feb 2013.

Scientists Make Surprising Discovery Deep Beneath Antarctic Ice Sheet

A National Science Foundation-funded team of researchers has made a surprising discovery 2400 feet beneath the Ross Ice Shelf in, invertebrates living and thriving in the brutally cold and perpetually dark waters beneath the ice so far away from the open ocean. The team says the discovery opens new questions about the ability of life to thrive in extreme environments.

The Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling or WISSARD Team for the first time ever, drilled down to the “grounding zone”, 530 miles from the edge of the Ross Sea...where Antarctic ice, land and sea all converge. The team used a specially designed hot water drill to bore through a half mile of ice, working around the clock to collect sediment samples. While the borehole remained open, the team deployed a remotely operated vehicle or ROV called Deep SCINI into the hole. Developed at Northern Illinois University, the ROV was fitted with a number of oceanographic instruments, including a downward looking camera to record data.

The grounding zone is extremely important for the stability of the ice shelf and studying core samples from this remote area will provide scientists with clues about the mechanics of ice sheets, future changes in climate, and sea-level rise.

Life on Moons: Antarctic Lake Shows How to Find It

Russian scientists have drilled 13,000 feet below Antarctica to the Lake Vostok, sealed off to the world for at least 14 million years, and if life can be found there, it may be possible in similar conditions on Europa and Enceladus.

Antarctic Scientific Drilling A Long History Trailer

Follow the journey into Antarctica's past to better understand it's future. How much sea level rise can we expect from Antarctica, and when? One way to answer these questions is scientific ocean drilling - pulling sediment cores up from below the sea floor. Take a look at the past 50 years of Antarctic scientific drilling in this video. From the Deep Sea Drilling Project's expeditions on the Glomar Challenger, to ANDRILL and other projects based on the ice itself, to the International Ocean Discovery Program's most recent adventure to the Ross Sea. The scientific community has come a long way in understanding Antarctica through scientific drilling. And there is still so much more to discover.

Video by Kim Kenny

Russian Scientists in Antarctica battle Organism 46b, Antarctic Creature, Lake Vostok Octopus

Organism 46b hunts by first paralyzing its prey with venom. The strange creature seizes and dismembers prey using a powerful beak, breaking the food source into pieces.

The ancients believed in monsters of the deep, serpents hiding under the waves, threatening to capsize the heavy crawling ships of men. Today there is no ocean or lake that has not been probed, and found wanting for sea monsters. Except for the freshwater lakes buried beneath the ice of Antarctica.

There is a hidden continent under the ice cap of Antarctica. Ground penetrating radar established the existence of hundreds of lakes on this continent. Because of pressure exerted by the ice, these lakes are not frozen. They are liquid, containing fresh water that has been isolated for at least 15 million years.

The largest of these is Lake Vostok, covered by a glacier two miles thick. On top of the ice sits the Russian Vostok Research Station. It took ten years for the Soviets to drill a vertical tunnel in the ice in which a special elevator was built, designed to hold a single man. In 2012 the eliptical drill bit finally reached, down the eastern shore of the lake. A team of eight men was lowered to the original surface of the continent, one man at a time. What followed was a closely guarded state secret, until a Russian scientist defected to the West.

Dr. Anton Padalka was a member of the Soviet research team. He became a defector after learning his government had military plans for a discovery made in Antarctica. Granted sanctuary in Switzerland, Dr. Padalka disclosed the existence of a life form native to Lake Vostok... a strange and lethal creature designated as Organism 46-B. During a scuba dive for which they required low-temperature wetsuits, the creature was encountered on day one of the expedition.

Organism 46b is a species of giant octopus, but with 14 arms rather than eight. It shares traits of its nearest known relative, vitreledonella richardi, the glass octopus. But 46b can do one thing that its smaller cousin cannot. It can paralyze from a distance of 150 feet because its venom is contained in the sac that is normally used for expelling ink. Expedition member Alexis Vindogradov, the radio operator, was dispatched in this way, and the radio was lost.

Like the Mimic Octopus of the Indo-Pacific, 46-B has remarkable powers of camouflage. The Mimic physically changes its form to resemble one of fifteen other aquatic species, such as a lion fish, or a sea snake, or a jellyfish. Again organism 46-B takes this ability one step further. Dr. Padalka witnessed the creature in the shape of a human diver. They thought it was a member of the team swimming toward them. The scientist nearest to the creature, a marine biologist, became the second researcher to lose his life when the organism resumed its shape and ripped him to pieces.

At this point the expedition chief, A.M. Yelagin, decided to use a specimen tank to capture the organism. The only female member of the team, Dr. Marta Kalashnik, was used to lure 46b, not because she was attractive, but because as a former professional athlete, she was judged best able to defend herself. The trap was a success, but one of the sea creature's arms threatened her. Kalashnik was forced to use her axeto defend herself.

According to Dr. Padalka, when the man-eater was brought to the surface it was confiscated immediately by Soviet security. The international press was told nothing was found. The entrance to the hole was plugged. Russian President Vladimir Putin now intends to weaponize the venom of the prehistoric beast.

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55 lakes in Eastern Antarctica that shouldn’t exist

Eastern Antarctica is considered to be the coldest place on Earth. So cold, that scientists expected its ice shelves were frozen solid and more stable against climbing global temperatures than Western Antarctica or Greenland. But new research published in the widely-esteemed journal Nature Climate Change has proven otherwise. If you want to learn more, lead scientists Jan Lenaerts and Stef Lhermitte break down the science in this educational blog post.

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Drilling to Antarctica's Lake Ellsworth | Video

In late 2012, a team of British scientists will use a hot-water drill to bore through nearly 2 miles of ice to reach Lake Ellsworth in West Antarctica. An animation shows how the team will reach the buried lake, and fetch its waters for analysis.

Antarctica's Lake Vostok (1999)

Using the Canadian RADARSAT-1 dataset of Antarctica, we get a context of where Lake Vostok is in Antarctica. Then an image of Lake Vostok pulls out and we tour the lake, fyling over the only highway on the lake, coming to rest on a view of an abandoned Russian station over the lake.

credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio and Canadian Space Agency, RADARSAT International Inc.


Lessons Learned from Drilling through the Antarctic Ice Sheet

Dr. John Priscu (Montana State University) and Dennis Duling (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) discuss the WISSARD and SALSA subglacial lake projects and lessons learned from drilling through the Antarctic ice sheet at the Keck Institute for Space Studies short course on October 9, 2017.

Garden of weird life forms found under Antarctic ice


The Hidden World Beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet | John Priscu | TEDxBozeman

Following more than a decade of international and national planning and an intense week of on-ice weather delays, Priscu led the field team successfully drilled through the overlying ice sheet and sampled directly the waters and sediments of a lake hidden beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. The groundbreaking exploration of Antarctica's subglacial environment marks the beginning of a new era in polar science, opening the window for future interdisciplinary scientific investigations of one of Earth's last unexplored frontiers.

Antarctica Secrets: Scenic Journey to the Bottom of a Lake - Into the Blue | The New York Times

Michael Becker, a researcher from McGill University, takes a camera along during a dive to the bottom of an Antarctic lake.

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Antarctica Secrets: Scenic Journey to the Bottom of a Lake - Into the Blue

A Hidden World of Life - Lake Vostok

I was a bit sick when I recorded the audio so apologies for the nasally voice!






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The Deepest Dive in Antarctica Reveals a Sea Floor Teeming With Life

No one really knows what’s in the deep ocean in Antarctica. Now we have the technology to reach into the ocean depths, we accompanied scientist and deep-sea explorer Jon Copley and became the first to descend to 1000 meters underwater in Antarctica for Blue Planet II. The exotic creatures we found there will astonish you.

This video is a part of Our Blue Planet, a joint venture between OceanX and BBC Earth to get people talking about the ocean. Join the conversation on Twitter: @OurBluePlanet.

#oceanx #alucia #antarctica #submarines

Director: Mark Dalio
Director of Photography (AP): Janssen Powers
Director of Photography (BBC): Ted Giffords
2nd Camera/Drone Op: James DuBourdieu
Field Audio: Mike Kasic
Production Manager: Samantha Loshiavo
Associate Producer: Marjorie Crowley
Editors: Ryan Quinn, Brian Golding, Janssen Powers
Colorist: James DuBourdieu
Sound Re-recording Mixer: Ryan Quinn
Assistant Editor: Jorge Alvarez
Post Production Supervisor: Brian Golding
Executive Producer: Jennifer Hile

Rare glimpse into Antarctic underwater world

An underwater robot has captured a rare glimpse beneath the Antarctic sea ice, revealing a thriving, colourful world filled with coconut-shaped sponges, dandelion-like worms, pink encrusting algae and spidery starfish.

The footage was recorded on a camera attached to a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) deployed by Australian Antarctic Division scientists under the sea ice at O’Brien Bay, near Casey research station in East Antarctica.

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