Photographer captures life under Antarctic ice: glass tentacles of a sea anemone and a sea spider (photo)

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Photographer captures life under Antarctic ice: glass tentacles of sea anemone and sea spider (photo)

Laurent Balliesta has made more than three dozen dives and made unique shots of life in Antarctica.

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Laurent Balliesta is an experienced underwater photographer and biologist. In total, he made 32 dives at -1.7°C. The French biologist planned his expedition to Antarctica for two years, and when it did happen, this dive became the deepest and longest in the history of diving in Arctic waters, writes The Guardian.

During the dive, the scientist managed to capture unique footage of life under the Arctic ice. As a result, his portfolio from this dive was titled “Under the Antarctic Ice” and his photograph of glass sea anemone tentacles hanging from the underside of an ice floe won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. This series of images will be presented to the public this week at the Natural History Museum in London.

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Laurent Balliesta managed to capture one of the most remarkable creatures in the world – the sea anemone (Edwardsiella andrillae). This species was only recently discovered by scientists and is known for thriving by burrowing into ice. At the same time, researchers still do not understand how he manages to penetrate his soft body through the ice floe and stay alive. Balleste's photo shows the thin glassy tentacles of a sea anemone that hang from the underside of the ice floe and wave from the current.

Photographer captures life under Antarctic ice: sea anemone glass tentacles and sea spider (photo)

Photographer captures life under Antarctic ice: sea anemone glass tentacles and a sea spider (photo)

According to Ballest himself, this dive was one of the most difficult of all that he had ever made. The scientist descended through a small hole in the ice, and after shooting underwater, he had to endure several hours of decompression in extreme cold before he could rise to the surface. However, it was worth it – no one has managed to collect such a “box” with amazing arctic creatures.

Photographer captures life under Antarctic ice: sea anemone glass tentacles and sea spider (photo)

Photographer captures life under Antarctic ice: sea anemone glass tentacles and a sea spider (photo)

In the cold waters of the Antarctic, many species are subject to polar gigantism, which causes invertebrates to develop much larger bodies than their relatives in warmer species. One such example was captured by Balliesta. He captured a giant Antarctic sea spider, which is actually not a spider at all, but a pycnogonid. This species is widely distributed throughout the world, however, they are usually very small. Only in Antarctica do they grow to such a size. Their internal organs develop inside their legs, and they feed by sucking juices from soft-bodied invertebrates through a long proboscis.