Aliens Invade Antarctica

The aliens have landed in Antarctica, and it’s humans whodunnit.

Cue X-files theme toon? No so much …

According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal, despite best efforts each human visitor is bringing in seeds of plants alien to the protected continent. About 40,000 people are now visiting every year, including an increasing number of tourists.

The study vacuumed pockets, trouser and sleeve cuffs, shoes and inside bags, it used tweezers to seek out accidentally hidden seeds. On average each person had 9.5 seeds in clothing and equipment.

9.5 per person is enough to spread plant species already viable in the cold climate, and increasingly more species could take root as the Antarctic peninsula is the most visited part of the continent and also the fastest warming place in the world.

Dana Bergstrom, from the Australian Antarctic Division, told the ABC that even 9.5 seeds per person amounts to a “substantial threat.”

“When we take things in through hitchhiking then we get species which are competitive. The plants and animals there are not necessarily competitive, so there’s a good chance… we’d start losing various precious biodiversity on the (Antarctic) continent,” she said.

Four alien species are known to be already growing with one invasive grass species tracked from its source, a Polish research station on King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland islands in the Southern Ocean.

The study sourced the seeds from a sample of visitors in late 2007 and early 2008 and has taken three years to identify all of the 71,000 seeds found.

It found that scientists were actually bringing in far more seeds per person than tourists and proposed that cleaning of everything brought in needs to be stepped up.

Philip Hulme, an ecologist at Lincoln University in New Zealand, told Wired that researchers get the most out of their investment in cold-weather gear by using the equipment in Antarctic fieldwork half the year and then transporting it to arctic environments, where it can easily pick up stowaway seeds.

Related stories:

Japan Forced To Suspend Whale Hunt In Antarctica

Antarctica Melting At Faster Rate

Why Global Warming Spells Disaster For Adélie Penguins (VIDEO)

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85 comments

Mary K.
Molly D.2 years ago

Must THEY leave their footprint ?

Dail Mashek
Dail Mashek3 years ago

Don't things wash up from the ocean, don't other animals bring seeds or fertilizer?Birds, sea animals, whales, penguins anything?

Dail Mashek
Dail Mashek3 years ago

What if God was creating a new garden, what if seeds were under the permafrost, what if the earth had turned on its axis before, what if it is meant to be, that's why seeds clung to the pants. socks, suitcases, tents etc. of the humans who brought them there. If its suppose to be warmer are we suppose to adjust to or change it? Just wondering why if God made the seed to carry by animal, wind and water, why is it wrong to be carried by human also. You know why you are not suppose to touch wild deer, they eat poison ivy, it all over them here, but we can't touch them or we get it all over us. It travels in the blood if your allergic to it and if you burn it you can get it from the inside out! You would be in a body cast like my neighbors niece was for 6 or more months. So what was there before ice? Just a brain fart, just thinking.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

Noted...

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

Noted...

David N.
David N.3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Janice P.
Janice P.3 years ago

Apparently that so-called "protection" is failing miserably.

Heather Marvin
Heather Marv3 years ago

Haven't we got it yet? When species, and plants are placed intentionally or unintentionally, in places they weren't meant to be, the result is havoc.

Heather Marvin
Heather Marv3 years ago

Haven't we got it yet? When species, and plants are placed intentionally or unintentionally, in places they weren't meant to be, the result is havoc.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thanks for the information,