ENVIRONMENT
02/11/2018 04:06 am ET Updated Mar 05, 2018

Explorers Come Up With Amazing Photos Of What Lies Beneath Antarctic Waters

The Greenpeace project is part of mission to create a massive Antarctic sanctuary.
The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise near an iceberg in Charlotte Bay in the Antarctic Ocean.
Christian Aslund / Greenpeace
The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise near an iceberg in Charlotte Bay in the Antarctic Ocean.

A crew of scientists on a mission for Greenpeace have surfaced with astounding first-ever photos from the depths of the Antarctic Ocean showing surprisingly diverse and abundant life even in the frigid dark.

The mission, involving state-of-the-art submersibles launched from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, aims to discover new life, gather data and help develop a love and appreciation for the Antarctic Ocean. Its key goal is to build support to create the largest protected area in the world: a 700,000-square-mile Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary where industrial fishing would be banned.

The need  is dire, with the Antarctic Peninsula warming faster than any other place on Earth. The international Antarctic Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources will consider creating the sanctuary when it meets in Australia in October. 

Stranger Things” star David Harbour got in on the action last month when he asked Greenpeace how many penguin retweets it would take to catch a ride on  the group’s ship. Greenpeace told him he’d get his ride with 200,000 — and he did.

Harbour and “Fantastic Beasts” star Alison Sudol are now on board the Arctic Sunrise. Harbour actually does plans on dancing with penquins, and Greenpeace has promised to film it when he does.

Actors David Harbour and Alison Sudol aboard Arctic Sunrise.
Daneil Belra/Greenpeace
Actors David Harbour and Alison Sudol aboard Arctic Sunrise.

Actor Javier Bardem already made the trip down under last month, reported mini-sub pilot and marine biologist John Hocevar.

Actor Javier Bardem about to take the plunge with submersible pilot John Hocevar.
Christian Aslund / Greenpeace
Actor Javier Bardem about to take the plunge with submersible pilot John Hocevar.
There he goes.
Greenpeace
There he goes.
Bardem horns in on Harbour's action and gets to know some chinstrap penguins.
Christian Aslund / Greenpeace
Bardem horns in on Harbour's action and gets to know some chinstrap penguins.

The real stars — sea stars, brittle stars, sun stars, feather stars, bright red sea stars, and basket stars — are already in the ocean.

Ophiuroid brittle stars collected off Lecointe Island.
Christian Aslund / Greenpeace
Ophiuroid brittle stars collected off Lecointe Island.
A Gorgonocephalus chilensis basket star found off Lecointe Island.
Christian Aslund / Greenpeace
A Gorgonocephalus chilensis basket star found off Lecointe Island.

While it’s too cold for most fish, crocodile ice fish survive because they have a kind of antifreeze in their blood.

Crocodile ice fish.
Greenpeace
Crocodile ice fish.

Check out these other shots of the ocean seabed:

Greenpeace
Greenpeace
Greenpeace

 And above the water:

A chinstrap penguin checks out the view.
Christian Aslund / Greenpeace
A chinstrap penguin checks out the view.
Members of an Adelie penguin colony in Hope Bay head out to fish.
Christian Aslund / Greenpeace
Members of an Adelie penguin colony in Hope Bay head out to fish.
What's at stake.
Christian Aslund / Greenpeace
What's at stake.
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