Sharks may reach Antarctic waters, warns biologists

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Sydney, Feb 16 (UNI) Biologists have warned that sharks could reach Antarctic waters under the impact of global warming.

The presence of ferocious predators would threaten the unique ecology of the continent, left intact since the paleozoic area of 250 million to 500 million years ago.

Antarctica's seas are still too cold for sharks but global warming has pushed temperatures up by one or two degrees and it would make the waters hospitable for one of the nature's best hunters, University of Rhode Island biology professor Cheryl Wilga said.

The Antarctic seafloor has been dominated by relatively soft-bodied, slow-moving invertebrates, just as in ancient oceans prior to the evolution of shell-crushing predators, she said.

Biologists gathered in Boston for the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science warned that the return of predators to Antarctica could prove devastating to its underwater ecosystem, Couriermail reported.

Oceanographers discovered in January last year that predatory crabs were moving closing to Antarctic waters for the first time in ages.

Sven Thatje of National Oceanography Center in Southampton, Britain, said crabs are only a couple of hundred bathymetric meters away from Antarctic shelf environment. urged the international community to take action to curb greenhouse gases that cause global warming and prevent an ecological disaster.

He warned that the return of shell-cracking predators to Antarctica would be a ''tragic loss'' for biodiversity in one of the ''last wild places on Earth''.

UNI XC YA AS1331

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