Antarctic species smashed by melting icebergs

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

sea moss
Fenestrulina rugula, a tough mossy species, is spreading over Antarctic rocks.

Human pollution continues to produce greenhouse gases, which act as a blanket to trap the Sun’s heat inside our planet. This causes global warming, which is melting Antarctica and heating up the seas. As massive pieces of frozen water called icebergs smash against the shores of Antarctica, loosened by the hotter temperatures, they’re disrupting the natural balance of life.

On the Antarctic peninsula, a land area connected to the mainland, yet mostly surrounded by water, a wide variety of different species are able to survive the harsh wintry conditions. However, the rocks and boulders around the shoreline have been disfigured over the past 20 years, as icebergs reshape the sea bed with their pounding.

While a sea moss called Fenestrulina rugulia has been able to overcome the beating, spreading like weeds, this can upset the natural give and take of life. Whenever the population of a plant or animal becomes too large or too small, it can have a ripple effect on other life forms that directly or indirectly depend on it. Also, damaged areas can be vulnerable to foreign “alien” species that hitchhike on ships, further causing unnatural chaos.

Images courtesy of British Antarctic Survey.