King crabs invade Antarctica

Posted by Trish Riley, March 23, 2011
Sven Thatje has been predicting an invasion of deep-water crabs into shallow Antarctic waters for the past several years.

The icebreaker Oden docks at McMurdo Station, the main U.S. base in Antarctica. ( For The Washington Post )

But the biologist and his colleagues got their first look at the march of the seafloor predators while riding on an icebreaker across frozen Antarctic seas this winter.

The ship towed a robot sub carrying a small digital camera that filmed the seafloor below. It caught images of bright red king crabs up to 10 inches long, moving into an undersea habitat of creatures that haven’t seen sharp teeth or claws for the past 40 million years.

“There were hundreds,” Thatje said in an interview on board the Swedish icebreaker Oden, which docked at the main U.S. base in Antarctica, McMurdo Station, after a two-month research cruise. “Along the western Antarctica peninsula, we have found large populations over 30 miles. It was quite impressive.”

via The Washington Post