This fascinating ‘hidden world’, which is situated 1,600ft beneath the ice, was discovered when researchers spotted an unusual groove in the ice shelf on satellite photographs.
Upon closer inspection, they found that this feature was indicative of a subsurface river.
When they drilled down into the ice to investigate, at first their camera seemed to be obscured by hundreds of strange blurry flecks. Upon focusing, however, they realized that these were in fact hundreds of small shrimp-like creatures that were swarming the lens.Their presence was unexpected as there was not thought to be any life at all at such a depth.
“Having all those animals swimming around our camera means there’s clearly an important ecosystem process happening there,” said oceanographer Craig Stevens.
Scientists had long suspected that there was a network of subsurface rivers and lakes beneath the ice and this latest discovery not only confirms this, but also opens up the door to the possibility of other ecosystems hidden hundreds of feet beneath the surface.