World record for the Italian icebreaker Laura Bassi
78° 44.280' S, Bay of Whales. These are the coordinates of the point recently reached by the Icebreaker Laura Bassi. It is the southernmost point ever reached in the Ross Sea in Antarctica, and generally the southernmost point ever reached by a ship. The icebreaker, which is taking part in the oceanographic campaign of the 38th Italian expedition of the National Antarctic Research Programme (PNRA), has thus set an absolute world record.
The previously unexplored area was reached to carry out the sampling envisaged by the "BIOCLEVER" project (Biophysical coupling to structure the larval and juvenile fish community of the Ross Sea continental shelf: a multidisciplinary approach), coordinated by the Institute of Polar Sciences (Cnr-Isp) of the National Research Council, also thanks to the collaboration with the MORSea marine observatory (University of Parthenope).
The first results of the study of the physical parameters of the seawater have revealed the presence of particularly cold water, confirming that it is of great importance for the study of the dynamics of the currents in the Ross Sea. In addition, a first analysis of the sampled material showed a high density of larval and juvenile stages of fish species, highlighting the presence of some species rarely observed in the Ross Sea, as well as a large amount of unicellular algae, showing a high primary production and stimulating further research.