Researchers find hidden Arctic night life under the sea

An "entirely different view" of how biological activity under the sea in the Arctic functions has been published this week by researcher Jorgen Berge and crew. Sea creatures come out at night in the Arctic, believe it or not. Research published this week stands against previous assumptions of a classical "bottom-up controlled system with strong physical forcing and seasonality in primary-production regimes." Of utmost importance in this study is the affirmation that the polar night is NOT what scientists though it would be – a time of "biological quiescence."

The location these researchers chose to investigate is in Kongsfjorden, an inlet in the west coastal region of Spitsbergen. Below you'll see a Google Maps image showing where the team's general area of study is located.

The group used a set of UW time-lapse cameras to capture the decomposition of fauna over a series of days at a time for this project. The video you're seeing of the camera (below) was captured in Kongsfjorden, the same location as the bulk of the study.

Below you'll see a video captured by the team with an underwater camera showing a time-lapse decomposition of a cod. This video shows how scavenging fauna remain active constantly, day and night.

Next you'll see another video from the series captured by the research team on this project, this time showing a piece of chicken meat being devoured over the course of four days.

The videos you're seeing here are hosted online by one of the many researchers on this project, Piotr Bałazy.

This study was conducted over the course of three consecutive winters, from January of 2013 to January of 2015, all in Kongsfjorden, Svalbard. In each case, the second half of the 117-day-long polar night was studied "when biological activity was expected to be at or near the minimum."

It's a strange situation in today's scientific world where a study is entirely new. In this case, that's just what's happened.

"Since most biological surveys have ignored the polar night under the old paradigm that activity is low," said the study, "there are no available comprehensive ecosystem studies that may be used in comparison with ours."

This study asserts that "the timing of annual routines" is not primarily linked with the onset of spring and the spring bloom, as previously assumed. They also suggest that this system is far less "orchestrated by production regimes" than previously thought.

For more information on this study, head to the paper "Unexpected Levels of Biological Activity during the Polar Night Offer New Perspectives on a Warming Arctic" as authored by Jørgen Berge, Malin Daase, Paul E. Renaud, et. all. You can find this paper as published by Cell under code DOI: