Marine life in Antarctica

In this video Adrian Glover, a marine biologist at the Natural History Museum, reveals the diversity of life in the Antarctic deep sea and explains why it might be changing.

Dr Glover shows us some of the high-tech equipment that is revolutionising the study of deep sea biology, making it easier to collect specimens and even discover species new to science.

Antarctica is often thought of as a barren place with very little life. But the marine environment reveals a continent and oceans rich in biodiversity and full of species yet to be discovered. From microorganisms and krill, to penguins and whales, the Antarctic sea is a diverse and complicated ecosystem.

Dr Adrian Glover examining a giant scale-worm from the Antarctic deep sea

Examining a giant scale-worm from the Antarctic deep sea

Discovery and evolution

Many species new to science are being discovered in the oceans of Antarctica. Very little is known about the processes that have shaped the evolution of these species in one of the most extreme regions of the planet. 

Dr Glover’s research is focused on studying where and how Antarctic organisms evolved to cope with these conditions. An additional goal is to understand the connections, past and present, between Antarctic marine life and the rest of the oceans.

Changes ahead

Adrian Glover’s work is important in helping us understand what lies beneath the ice and how marine biodiversity in Antarctica is changing.

He says, ‘Parts of the Antarctic are warming rapidly as a result of global climate change. This includes the west Antarctic where warmer-water species are now thought to be invading from more temperate oceans. 

'Major changes in the patterns of sea-ice formation over the next 50 years could radically alter the Antarctic marine ecosystem. For me, this is one of the most important reasons to go to Antarctica and study it over the long-term.’