Scientists capture giant sea creatures

2008-02-19 21:47:48 CCTV

 

And finally a fleet of three Antarctic marine research ships has returned to Australia, ending a expedition to the Southern Ocean.

Scientists investigating the icy waters of Antarctica say they have collected mysterious creatures many may never have been seen before.

The expedition was part of an ambitious international effort to map life forms in the Antarctic Ocean, also known as the Southern Ocean.

It was also to study the impact of forces such as climate change on the environment under the sea.

The international programme took a census of marine life in the ocean and collected specimens from up to two thousand meters beneath the surface.

During 20 days of sampling, they collected thousands of animals - up to a quarter of them previously unknown including giant sea spiders the size of dinner plates and jelly fish with six meter tentacles.

Dr. Martin Riddle, Voyage Leader, said, "A huge diversity of life, very colorful, very rich, far exceeding any of our expectations."

Some of the animals grow to unusually large sizes, a phenomenon called gigantism that scientists still do not fully understand.

The specimens have been sent to universities and museums around the world for identification, tissue sampling and DNA studies.