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A Thriving Ecosystem Is Hiding Underneath Greenland’s Ice Caps

Greenland's frigid waters are home to a flourishing aquatic habitat for the creatures that call it home.

From the surface, the vast ice caps that envelop the Greenland town of Tasiilaq are still and silent, offering no visible sign of life, which might be expected in a -2° Celsius environment.

But Austrian underwater filmmaker Alexander Benedik was able to capture a secret, effervescent ecosystem nestled in the cold waters beneath the ice caps.

The video from his April 17 dive revealed vibrant sea creatures that have made the chilly northern waters their home—among them, a transparent Arctic jellyfish, a sparkly skeleton shrimp, and a white nudibranch, or soft-bodied mollusk. (Read: “Deepest Dive Ever Under Antarctica Reveals a Shockingly Vibrant World”)

The nudibranch has rapid life cycles that often last only a few weeks, which can make it an elusive creature for researchers hoping to study its behavior.

Biologically, cold waters are the second-most fruitful areas in the world, after coral reefs. However, not just anyone can dive to the depths to witness the marine life firsthand. Greenland requires that divers be certified and have experience diving in dry suit within the past year. (Read more about a new technology helping scientists to look under Greenland’s massive ice sheet.)

Benedik, who is 42, has been diving since 1998 and filming underwater videos since 2008. He runs Global Dive Media, which features video from more than 50 of his deep-sea dives.