Distribution of pelagic larvae of benthic marine invertebrates in the Bellingshausen Sea
During November and December 1992, plankton samples were collected using a ring net of mesh size 200 μm vertically hauled through a 600 m water column, at five stations along a transect running north from the Allison Peninsula in the Bellingshausen Sea. Three stations were located over the continental shelf; two of these were ice bound, whilst the third was at the ice edge. Two other stations were in deeper, ice-free water. Sixteen different larval and juvenile types were found representing seven phyla: Echinodermata, Nemertea, Coelenterata, Mollusca, Annelida, Arthropoda and Bryozoa, of which the first two were the most abundant. Larval numbers and types decreased with distance offshore and away from permanent sea ice. The presence of many stages of nemertean larval development within a short time scale, in an area where developmental tends to be slow, suggests that reproduction occurs over an extended period and that the larvae have a long planktonic phase. The increased size of later developmental stages of the nemertean larvae indicates they obtain nutrition within the water column during winter, when little particulate food is present.