Recently, research published in the journal Science, unveiled a surprising connection between the movements of Turquet’s octopuses and the stability of the West Antarctic ice sheet.
About Turquet's octopus
- It is a species of benthic octopus with a circumpolar Antarctic distribution.
- The species has a wide depth range, occurring from shallow waters to 4,000 m deep.
- Appearance: It is characterised by the absence of a skin ridge round the body, and its nearly smooth skin, which is covered with low granular bumps.
- In the wild it is known to be preyed upon by Patagonian toothfish off South Georgia and Weddell seals off the South Shetland Islands.
- These cephalopods, inhabitants of the Southern Ocean, navigated the region when the ice sheet melted approximately 125,000 years ago.
- Conservation Status
- IUCN: Least concern (LC)
Key Facts about the West Antarctic ice sheet
- The Transantarctic Mountains divide the West Antarctic Ice Sheet from the East Antarctic Ice Sheet.
- West Antarctica is approximately 97% ice-covered.
- The West Antarctic Ice Sheet flows into the Bellingshausen, Weddell, Amundsen and Ross seas.
- There are principally three sectors of the ice sheet, which flow northeast-ward into the Weddell Sea, westward into the Ross Ice Shelf and northward into the Amundsen/Bellingshausen seas.
- West Antarctica is surrounded by a strong clockwise circumpolar circulation.
- These currents play a significant role in the global thermohaline circulation, and are one of the reasons why Antarctica is so cold.
Q1) What is the benthic zone?
The term benthic refers to anything associated with or occurring on the bottom of a body of water. The animals and plants that live on or in the bottom are known as the benthos.