Scientists have discovered a mussel colony 120 km north of the Antarctic Peninsula. Researchers believe the find is a foreshadowing of a mussel invasion of the continent due to climate change and increased ship traffic in the region, The Weather Channel reports.
Biologists at Laval University in Quebec accidentally discovered mussels while collecting coral samples from Fields Bay on King George Island.
The molluscs, apparently, were accidentally brought to Antarctica on a ship en route from Patagonia. Mussels are the first ever introduced species to settle in the region, as evidenced by a new study published in Scientific Reports.
Bivalve molluscs are not native to Antarctica, and there was no previous evidence that juvenile mussels survived in the cold temperatures of the Southern Ocean.
There is a possibility that mussels will become the first "sea invaders" of Antarctica. This is a concern for biologists: alien species can threaten the biodiversity and ecosystems of the Antarctic Peninsula region.
The presence of this species in Antarctica does not mean that it will be able to survive and reproduce. But the area where the mussels were found is known for outbreaks of ever higher seawater temperatures, there is a possibility that mussels will take root here in the future.