The King crab could start living on Antarctica, due to global warming, new study suggest. The study was made by the Florida Institute of Technology and was published in the journal Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

The species that usually lives on warmer waters like the Alaskan Coast, could join the previously too-cold ecosystem of the western coast of Antarctica, causing a disruption of the balance.

Antarctica waters have also been getting warmer, inviting other species that haven’t been found there in 10 million years to move to that area, breaking the temperature barrier that separated them before.

Spiny stone or king crab, Lithodes longispina, a species from underwater seamounts south of Tasmania. Hundreds of new species have been discovered on extinct underwater volcanoes, or seamounts, that rise from the sea floor in the Coral Sea and the Tasman Sea between New Caledonia and Tasmania. Credits: Wikipedia

“Marine communities in shallow water environments in Antarctica look vastly different from marine communities elsewhere in the world,” says study lead author Richard Aronson, head of the department of biological sciences at Florida Institute of Technology, on the paper.

Aronson says that this communities can be labeled as “archaic” or “retrograde” due to the lack of a modern predator. Animals like starfishes, giant ribbon worms and sea spiders, used to be the top predators in the community are now threatened by the presence of the shell-crushing predator.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, at the western coast of Antarctica the water depths are warmer than the surface, and the temperature just keeps rising. This is crucial for the King crab to survive because they are usually found between 3,600 and 4,900 feet deep from the coast.

Although the scientists point out the King crab as a threat to unbalance an unique ecosystem, they ratified that the true enemy here is global warming, and that we are starting to see this effects in changes like this.

“We need to know what we are doing to our world,” Aronson says in the study. “We need to know what’s going on. We need to know the full extent of climate change effects”, he concludes.

Source: Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America