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We live in an amazing world, and despite how long we have been around and been exploring, we are unearthing new things every day. Proving this very fact, recently a team of scientists discovered a never-before-seen ecosystem beneath an Antarctic ice shelf, and it has them jumping for joy.

Including in this ecosystem are hundreds of amphipods- which are small, shrimp-like crustaceans, which can be seen swarming the camera that was dropped by the researchers to explore. This habitat was discovered below the edges of the Ross Ice Shelf, which is the world’s largest body of floating ice that can be found on the southern edge of Antarctica.

The habitat was found as researchers were gathering data on climate change and how it impacts the ice shelf.

To observe, they drilled down 1,640 feet below the surface of the ice shelf, using a powerful hot water hose to move through the shelf. Then, they sent a camera to move through the drilled hole, and upon submerging the camera assumed that it must be faulty, because of the tiny flecks that could be seen. Then, once the camera focused in, they realized that they weren’t flecks at all, but were instead tiny little crustaceans.

According to Live Science, this threw the team off guard, because they did not expect to find any life beneath the icy surface. Craig Stevens, an oceanographer said, “Having all those animals swimming around our camera means there’s an important ecosystem process happening there.”

For quite some time, experts have believed that there likely is a network of rivers underneath the surface of Antarctica. Up until now, this had not been confirmed, so this discovery is extremely important because of that. “Getting to observe and sample this river was like being the first to enter a hidden world,” lead researcher Huw Horgan, a glaciologist, said to the Guardian.

Following this discovery, scientists will continue to observe the ecosystem to learn more about it. One concern is that with climate change, hidden ecosystems like this could be at a higher risk.
“The climate is changing, and some key focal points are yet to be understood by science,” Stevens said. “But what is clear is that great changes are afoot.”

“Here we are, in a forgotten corner of the world, seeing real-time influences from events that felt worlds away. It was quite remarkable,” he concluded.