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petri dish of critters

From walruses to worms

The Bering Sea is a cold place, but it’s home to animals from walruses to worms. A dish of polychaete worms and one mollusk (the light pink loop in the center) await further sorting during an April 2009 expedition to the Bering Sea. A team of researchers led by WHOI biologist Carin Ashjian were there to learn more about sea ice and how climate change could be affecting the Bering Sea ecosystem. As the climate changes, shifts in sea ice should also affect the ice algae. The clams, snails, worms, and crustaceans on the bottom of the sea, in turn, are food for larger animals. If these mud-dwelling creatures get a lot of their energy from the sea ice, a change in ice cover in the Bering Sea could ripple through the ecosystem.

(Photo by Chris Linder, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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