Expedition Antarctica took to the waters for a 50-day journey across the Southern Ocean and beyond the icy continent earlier this year. On board New Zealand’s research vessel RV Tangaroa, an international team used state-of-the-art technology to scan the seabed. The Aegis imaging system allowed scientists to capture fascinated images like nothing seen before.
While the mission is still ongoing, “The Secrets of Antarctica” documentary was released on YouTube in July revealing the amazing finds to date.
The narrator explained: “Having braved ice storms, broken equipment and rough seas for almost two months, the team braces itself for the most high-pressured assignment of them all.
“They will delve 3,500 metres into the abyssal plain, a depth almost as high as the Swiss Alps.
“It will endure 300 times more pressure than we experience every day.
Antarctica scientists were stunned by the creature
I have never seen anything like this before
“Suddenly the abyssal plain reveals itself, it looks barren, like the surface of Mars, but a closer look reveals life that no one has ever witnessed in Antarctica at all.”
However, the scientists could not leave it there.
They wanted a closer look at some of the marine life and so sent down a fishing net.
The narrator added: “The team take the opportunity to trawl the bottom, having set up more than 5,000 of cable into the sea.
“The beam trawl finally comes aboard at 2:00am and, after six hours of waiting, the team gets its reward.
“12 buckets of mud and one single fish.
“But in this mud lies many delectable delights like this sea cucumber.
“Then Kareen [Schnabel] finds an even more curious specimen."
Dr Schnabel, a marine biologist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand, detailed her excitement.
She told viewers: “It has something quite interesting at the front which sort of likened it to a hippopotamus.
“We don’t know how many are down there, we don’t know how common this is.
“But I have never seen anything like this before.”
The same team also discovered a new species during their journey.
Andrew Stewart, a leading scientist in the excavation was left stunned by the find.
He said last month: “This is why I came to Antarctica, to see things like this.”
Dr Stewart held the creature up to the camera.
He then exclaimed: “I have to look at such features as the shape of the teeth, the jaws, the shape of the gill rakers, as well as counts of the vertebrae [to determine what it is].
“Now I have no idea what species this is.
“The colour pattern on the fins is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”