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Discovery

Antarctic Treasure: The Underwater Images of Norbert Wu

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diver from Norbert Wu's Antarctic team and a medusa (Desmonema glaciale) beneath the ice

Video opportunity: A diver from Norbert Wu's Antarctic team takes aim at a cooperative medusa (Desmonema glaciale) swimming beneath the ice. The largest of these jellyfish is as long as a human, capped by a bell one meter in diameter.

Credit: 2003 Norbert Wu/www.norbertwu.com

 

sea ice cracks

Dangerous beauty: Not all sea ice cracks are as obvious as this one at Granite Harbor. Those buried under small ridges of snow can mask ice that's too thin to support heavy tracked vehicles. Antarctic researchers use ice drills to gauge the safety of proceeding.

Credit: Peter Brueggeman


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A Spryte tracked vehicle

Good news: A Spryte tracked vehicle transports Wu's team safely to and from dive sites and carries a large auger to drill dive holes in the ice. Bad news: Its top speed is a mind-numbing 10 mph.

Credit: Peter Brueggeman


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a diver in a dive hole

A diver poses in a primary dive hole drilled through two yards of covering ice. The weighted drop line (left) steadies the diver against underwater currents. The line also carries flags and strobe lights to mark the diver's exit, and a small "pony bottle."

Credit: Kevin Hoefling

 

a Weddell seal

Young male Weddell seal feigning aggression, Turtle Rock. This young male was following the mother and pup. Female Weddell seals are in estrus immediately following birth, but are rarely in the mood while tending to their pups. This male took out his frustration on Norbert Wu's diving team, speeding toward them with his mouth open in a mock display. Wu says he "never felt threatened, but the sight of this 1000-pound animal speeding toward me with its mouth open was unnerving."

Credit: 2003 Norbert Wu/www.norbertwu.com

 

anchor ice

Lush life: In shallow Antarctic waters, anchor ice can form on the bottom and suppress many organisms. Not so at depths in the 15-33 meter range, where the diverse and complex seafloor community teems with anemones, seastars and layers of sponges.

Credit: 2003 Norbert Wu/www.norbertwu.com