Marine census to chart Antarctic climate change

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An expedition led by Australian scientists expects to discover new marine life forms in the Southern Ocean.

The ice-breaker Aurora Australis left Hobart mid December and will be the first of three ships to collect marine samples over the following two months.

The bright orange polar vessel is on a joint Australian, French and Japanese expedition undertaking a six-week marine census, as part of a wider climate change study of the Antarctic.

The ships will take marine life samples over about 40,000 square kilometres of ocean near the French Antarctic station, Dumont D’Urville.

The head of the voyage, doctor Martin Riddle, said that the marine census will help scientists predict how Antarctic ocean life will respond to climate change.

“We’re using a variety of sampling equipment that will get us down to collect animals from 200 metres to 2000 metres,” he said.

“We’re using trawls and sleds, video cameras on the trawls and also grabs.”

The voyage, returns in late January.