In the cold, dark waters of McMurdoe Sound, life flourishes. The creatures here grow extremely slowly, but that means they can reach a great age and a great size. They gather in surprisingly large numbers. Three metre long carnivorous nemertean worms, red sea stars and red urchins carpet the floor. The worm will eat anything and is constantly scanning the sea floor. Animals are swarming here in such huge numbers because there is a bonanza: a dead seal pup from the surface provides a bounty of food for all the creatures of the sea floor, and is something that may only happen once every 10 years. It's hard work to feed on such a huge carcass, sea stars feed by pushing out their stomachs through their mouths, emptying their digestive juices on to the seal's body which dissolves the seal's tissue. But that takes time. These scavengers will feed throughout the summer until all that remains is a bare skeleton.
Available since: Thu 26 Nov 2009
- David Attenborough
- Neil Lucas
- Executive Producer
- Michael Gunton