In DepthMARINE RESEARCH

Arctic shipworm discovery alarms archaeologists

Science  26 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6276, pp. 901
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6276.901

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Summary

During a trawl for sea creatures on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean last month, scientists on the RV Helmer Hansson in Rijpfjorden on the island of Spitsbergen, Norway, retrieved a 7-meter-long log infested with living shipworms on the sea floor under 250 meters of water. Previous studies have suggested that shipworms may be moving from warmer waters into the high latitudes as the ocean temperature rises. The discovery raises the possibility that a new species of the wood-chomping mollusks is loose in the Arctic, where it could devour shipwrecks. Now, scientists are analyzing the worms' DNA and the wood for more clues.

  • * aboard the RV Helmer Hansson off Svalbard, Norway