Shipworms

27 Aug

Shipworms which destroy wood. do not survive in Antarctic waters. This is because a Front, at the junction of the polar and warmer waters (as well as currents that circulate round the continent), acts as a barrier that blocks the invasion of these destructive mollusks.

When a Norwegian study led by Thomas Dahlgreen, (1), left wood on the Antarctic shelf for over a year, the wooden planks remained intact.

Trees have not grown on the continent for millions of years and it seems that off shore Antarctica is an inhospitable habitat for wood borers.

The fascinating question is whether wrecks in the Weddell Sea could be recovered. The prospect seems remote, given the depth of the Weddell Sea and the pack ice, but nevertheless the suggestion remains a tantalising prospect. When Shackleton’s ‘Endurance’ was crushed by the pack and sunk in November 1915 (She’s going, boys), she was thought to be lost irrevocably. Could she still be lying, crushed but defiant under the Antarctic waters?

(1) Thomas Dahlgreen. Proceedings of the Royal Society. August, 2013

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