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Polar Mail from the Oden

Letters: July 21

I suspect that your research efforts may have stumbled across unexpected discoveries and I was wondering if you have come across unexpected wildlife in this polar discovery effort.

James Creasy, Surveyor
PA Game Commission
Harrisburg, PA

Dear James,

The wildlife above the ocean here some 300 miles from the north pole consists of seals, polar bears, and a few species of bird.  We have observed all of these (as well as a lady bug, probably a stowaway in one of our containers) during our expedition.

At almost 2.5 miles below the sea surface, the Arctic seafloor beneath us is made up of basaltic lava, a highly rugged terrain on which sparsely distributed shrimp, anemones, and sponges (in the shape of a narrow vase) live. Our last dive with Camper to 3,800 meters (or 2.3 miles) revealed an unexpected encounter with a cirrate (or "winged") octopus. Reddish in color, this octopus was hovering about 5 meters above the seafloor, likely drifting and waiting for prey. They are found at deep depths throughout the world's oceans and are known to feed on crustaceans (like shrimp and crabs) and shellfish (like mussels and clams). They use their "wings" to adjust their position in the water column. 

We hope the next few days will bring us the discovery of hydrothermal vents and new exotic animals (wildlife). So stay tuned.

Thank you for your question.
Tim Shank