Washington, Feb 16 (ANI): The Census of Marine Life explorers have found that hundreds of identical species thrive in both the Arctic and the Antarctic Oceans.
They were especially surprised to find that at least 235 species live in both polar seas despite a distance of more than 13,000-kilometer distance in between.
The scientists found marine life that both poles apparently share in common include marathoners such as grey whales and birds, but also worms, crustaceans, and angelic snail-like pteropods, the latter discoveries opening a host of future research questions about where they originated and how they wound up at both ends of the Earth.
DNA analysis is underway to confirm whether the species are indeed identical.
Among many other findings, the scientists also documented evidence of cold water-loving species shifting towards both poles to escape rising ocean temperatures.
The discoveries are the result of a series of landmark,often perilous voyages conducted during International Polar Year, 2007-2008.
Biologists braved waves of up to 16 meters (48 feet) while getting to and from the Antarctic while their Arctic colleagues often worked under the watchful eye of an armed lookout to protect them from polar bears.
The studies by a global network of polar researchers have added substantially to human knowledge about the diversity, distribution and abundance of marine life, with results to be fully detailed in the world's first Census report, to be released in London October 4, 2010.
"The polar seas, far from being biological deserts, teem with an amazing quantity and variety of life," said Dr. Ian Poiner, Chair of the Census Scientific Steering Committee.
"Only through the co-operation of 500 people from more than 25 countries could the daunting environmental challenges be overcome to produce research of such unprecedented scale and importance. And humanity is only starting to understand the nature of these regions," he added. (ANI)