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Why Don't Fish Freeze in Antarctica? I Antarctic Extremes

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 Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science
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Under the ice in Antarctica is a world few people ever get to see.

Bizarre creaturesancient sponges, gigantic jellyfish, sea spiders, ribbon worms, and notothenioid fishes that manage not to freezemake their home here. Every time I come down here, every year, I always find something I havent seen before, diver Steve Rupp says.

To discover Antarcticas dazzling hidden underbelly, host Arlo Prez meets with Steve and his fellow Antarctic diver Rob Robbins, while host Caitlin Saks explores the McMurdo Aquarium with evolutionary physiologist Chi-Hing Christina Cheng. Arlo and Caitlin learn that the Antarctic marine realm is not only spectacular to see, but fascinating for scientists to study. The water is so cold that fish inhabiting it should freeze like an icicle, a phenomenon that evolutionary biologist Paul Cziko uses supercooled water, snow, and fish guts to demonstrate.

So how do Antarcticas fish, which penguins and seals rely on for food, survive in waters below their freezing point? To find out, Caitlin and Arlo go ice fishing with a local legend, biologist Art DeVries, who has been studying fish physiology in Antarctica since 1961. The secret is an evolutionary marvel that has major implications...for ICE CREAM.

For more cool underwater footage, check out the channel for the McMurdo Oceanographic Observatory (MOO):

Or, visit the MOO's website for LIVE (seasonal) underwater footage:


Hosted by Caitlin Saks and Arlo Prez
Editor/Digital Associate Producer: Arlo Prez
Producer: Caitlin Saks
Field Director/Cinematographer: Zachary Fink
Executive Producer: Julia Cort
Coordinating Producer: Elizabeth Benjes
Project Director: Pamela Rosenstein
Production Assistance: Matthew Buckley, Emily Pattison, Sean Cuddihy
Audio Mix: Heart Punch Studio
Director of Audience Development: Dante Graves
Senior Digital Producer: Ari Daniel
Audience Engagement Editor: Sukee Bennett
Outreach Manager: Gina Varamo
Special thanks to the United States Antarctic Program

Emily Stone, Getty Images, McMurdo Oceanographic Observatory, Paul Czkio, Paul Dayton / NSF, PH1 R.W. Milton / NSF, Rob Robbins, Shutterstock, Steven Rupp, Storyblocks

Music: APM

National corporate funding for NOVA is provided by Draper. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers. Additional funding is provided by the NOVA Science Trust.

Major funding for this project is provided by the National Science Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation, The Kendeda Fund, the George D. Smith Fund, and the Richard Saltonstall Charitable Foundation.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1713552. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

WGBH Educational Foundation 2020

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