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New plants found in Surtsey

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New plants found in Surtsey

Scientists discovered five new plants on the volcanic island of Surtsey, off Iceland’s southern coast, in their annual expedition this week. The island was created in a volcanic eruption in 1963 and since been a “living laboratory.”

“I feel like a boy looking for adventures, looking for a treasure,” Dr. Sturla Fridriksson, who has visited the island every year for 43 years, told Morgunbladid. No one except for scientists are allowed ashore the island. They seek to discover how life evolves there without human intervention.

This year Fridriksson and his colleagues discovered five plants which did not grow on Surtsey last year: Common Yarrow or Milfoil (Achillea millefolium), Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis), Small-Reed or Reedgrass (Calamagrostis stricta), Oak Fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris) and CliffWillow-Herb (Epilobium collinum).

Seeds are brought to the island with birds that nest there. The bird life is blooming on Surtsey and scientists have spotted Black-Legged Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Lesser Black-Backed Gulls, Puffins, Ravens and Sparrows.

The scientific expedition this week was organized by the Surtsey Association, the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, the Agricultural University of Iceland and the Environment and Food Agency of Iceland.

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