Friday, June 25, 2004

Arctic Ocean survey may reveal lost world, say experts

OSLO, Norway — A new survey of the depths of the ice-capped Arctic Ocean could reveal a lost world of living fossils and exotic new species from jellyfish to giant squid, scientists said Thursday.

The international scheme will include probing a 12,470-foot abyss off Canada described by project leaders as the "world's oldest sea water — a vast, still pool unstirred for millennia, walled by steep ridges and lidded with ice."

Scientists in the project, led from the University of Alaska, plan to use robot submarines and sonar to track down life in the chilly Arctic Ocean, where they say many species may be at risk from global warming.

"This is the world's refrigerator where change has happened far more slowly than in other oceans," said researcher Russ Hopcroft at the University of Alaska, saying the census could easily double the number of species known in the Arctic.

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