60 million nests over an area of 240 km2: such a large-scale breeding colony has never been seen before.
Since the exploration of the Antarctic Ocean off Antarctica in the 1980s, only a handful of Jonah icebergs have been found (Neobacetopsis iona), Scientists have found even a few nests. Last February, a trip to the German Alfred Wegener Institute came as a surprise, as underwater images revealed a large number of nests.
Taken at a depth of 400 to 500 meters in this icy water, the underwater robot’s videos clearly showed these structures about 75 cm in diameter. Later, by expanding their study surface, the scientists realized that this was only a very small part of the colony, writes “Geo”. “We had an area of 45,600 m² and counted an incredible number of 16,160 fish nests in photos and videos,” explained Adon Purser, a biologist and editor-in-chief of the January 13 report. “Current Biology”.
Expanding with the collected images, it is estimated that the colony covers an area of at least 240 km2, equivalent to the island of Malta and shelter … 60 million nests. That is, the biomass of more than 60,000 tons of fish.
The pebbles are made of pebbles in their central part and the active ones have 1500 to 2500 eggs each, which in three-quarters of the cases are preserved by an adult fish. Others seemed abandoned, sometimes with the carcass of a fish nearby. Like other fish, it appears that the male builds the nest to attract the female, but it is not yet known who keeps the eggs and for how long.
Pantry for seals
This vast colony would be the largest colony ever discovered for fish. If Jonah’s icefish seem to have picked these places, it’s because the waters are 2 degrees Celsius warmer than those around them, where the temperature is closer to 0 degrees Celsius. But not only are there species that appreciate the region, there are also many Vedal stamps found there. And 90% of their dives take place in this nest building area, so it seems like giving them a generous lord.
Since this area of Weddell has not yet been granted protected area status, scientists hope that their massive discovery will encourage a ban on all aggressive fishing and research in the area.
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