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Disappearing Glacier Reveals Antarctic Wonders April 29, 2011
Marine life revealed after iceberg melted.
Sea floor images taken by a remote camera near the Mertz Glacier show colorful cold-water creatures.
The break-off and subsequent melting of a huge chunk of Antarctic glacier has revealed a previously unseen frigid habitat teeming with life, according to oceanographers from the Australian Antarctic Division.

When a large iceberg clipped the Mertz Glacier in East Antarctica last year, it seeded the base of the marine food web with between 20 and 40 years worth of accumulated iron-rich dust contained in the ice.

When melted, it acted as a fertilizer for phytoplankton. The tiny plants quickly bloomed due to the sudden flood of light and nutrients, setting off a sudden explosion in the populations of larger marine life.

The removal of the glacial sea ice also revealed to marine biologists such animals as giant sea stars, colorful sponges and fish.

The creatures had just months earlier been living in the gloom beneath a layer of about 48 miles of glacier tongue.

Photo: Australian Antarctic Division