A recent expedition aboard the German icebreaker Polarstern led to an unexpected discovery hidden beneath the Filchner shelf in the Weddell Sea. While Polarstern’s research team was studying the chemical links between surface water and the seabed using a special camera, marine biologist Autun Purser noticed the presence of several circular nests belonging to Jonah’s icefish (Neopagetopsis ionah), located about 500 metres below the ice of the shelf.
The researchers continued their observations, inspecting the seabed kilometre after kilometre, and realised that a huge nesting area was expanding beneath the Weddell sea ice. They thus discovered a colony millions of times larger than any other, with one nest every four square metres, over a total of 240 square kilometres (just to get an idea of the size, the municipality of Milan has an area of 180 square kilometres). A total of around 60 million active nest was counted, but the most surprising thing is that each nest can contain around 1,700 eggs