Sunday, January 16, 2022

In the Antarctic German researchers discover the world’s largest fish breeding area

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60 million nests in an area the size of Frankfurt am Main: German scientists have made a sensational find. They discovered the huge breeding area only by chance.

Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven have discovered what they say is probably the largest known fish breeding area in the world in the Antarctic. The area on the bottom of the Weddell Sea is home to an estimated 60 million nests of ice fish on 240 square kilometers, the AWI announced on Thursday. The nests were discovered almost a year ago through underwater photos during an expedition.

On board the research icebreaker “Polarstern”, researchers noticed many thousands of ice fish nests on the bottom of the Weddell Sea when they evaluated live images from an underwater camera system towed by the ship. The find came as a complete surprise and sparked enthusiasm among the experts. On average, they counted an active nest every three square meters, sometimes many more.

The researchers later estimated the total size of the breeding area using oceanographic and biological mapping to be 240 square kilometers with an estimated total of around 60 million nests. This roughly corresponds to the area of ​​the city of Frankfurt am Main. AWI biologist and study author Autun Purser described the discovery, which the researchers have now presented in the journal “Current Biology”, as “fascinating”.

The Weddell Sea is part of the Antarctic coast in the extreme South Atlantic. According to the AWI, it has been the target of research trips by the “Polarstern” since the 1980s. Prior to this, however, only individual ice fish of the species Neopagetopsis ionah or smaller collections of nests had been registered.

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