With as many species of animals the world has discovered, there are still many that surprise us in the strangest places. This past week there were various species of fish found in Antarctica, all around 2,500 feet below the ice.

Earlier in the month, researchers with Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) team used a specifically designed hot-water drill and cut down 2,500 feet – almost half a mile, of the Ross Ice Shelf which is the largest floating body of ice in the world. This National Science Foundation-funded group has been studying the ‘grounding zone’ which is where Antarctic ice, land, and sea all meet at the west Antarctic Ice Sheet.

After the drilling down the Ross Ice Shelf, the scientists lowered a small, custom-built robot with a camera down to get a better look at the open area. This was the first time that anyone has every directly observed a grounding zone of a major Antarctic glacier. It wasn’t until recently that any signs of life were found there.

“I have been investigating these types of environments for much of my career, and although I knew it would be difficult, I had been wanting to access this system for years because of its scientific importance,” said Ross Powell, chief scientist with the WISSARD project as well as researcher at Northern Illinois University in an NSF press release. “Findings such as these — gaining an understanding of the ice sheet dynamics and its interaction with ocean and sediment, as well as establishing the structure of its ecosystem — are especially rewarding. It’s a big payoff in delayed gratification.”

Moving forward, the researchers plan to examine the different sediments and samples found in the grounding zone, in hopes to learn more about ice sheets and the effects on sea-level rise. They also plan to study the fish found in Antarctica so they may better understand what types of organisms can survive in such an intense environment without any sunlight.

The details will be announced after the initial tests on samples are performed. It was announced that there have been multiple fish found in Antarctica in this drilling, and that we’re just waiting for more thorough research to be done.