You may think that not much can survive in the challenging conditions of the Antarctic, but here I would like to share with you some pictures from my recent diving experiences on the West Antarctic Peninsula and introduce you to some of the creatures that live there so join me in a virtual dive in Antarctic chilly waters...
Above: Just like in the UK anenomes and sea-squirts often battle for space ©A.Cordingley
Above is my personal favourite, and the subject of my Antarctic studies: Bryozoans.
Here the underside of a rock is covered with the bryozoans Beania erecta (the peachy, lumpy stuff)
and Fenestrulina rugula (white encrusting patches) interspersed with hydroids
Above: BAS Diver David Smyth admires a wall of soft corals, sponges and sea-squirts ©A.Cordingley
Above: The well disguised, slow-moving and friendly small fish, Harpagifer antarcticus, is common on the sea-bed
Above: An antarctic jellyfish ©A.Cordingley
Above: Despite the chilly temperatures the colours underwater can rival tropical reefs
as can be seen in this collection of starfish, filter-feeding sea cucumbers and red seaweed
Above: Sometimes the main limiting factor is space as corals, sponges, sea cucumbers and sea-squirts compete ©A.Cordingley
Above: Odontaster, the most common starfish around Ryder Bay ©A.Cordingley
Above: Sterechinus neumayeri, the common sea urchin in Ryder Bay uses pieces of sea-weed
and shell to try and disguise itself from predators ©A.Cordingley
Many of these pictures are taken by Ashley Cordingley, marine biologist at the British Antarctic Survey and talented underwater photographer.
Jen's research is being undertaken as a collaboration between:
Heriot Watt University, Natural History Museum, UMBS, Millport, and the British Antarctic Survey.