UAB biologist featured in Nat Geo WILD documentary

Local News

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A scientist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham was recently featured in a documentary that aired on Nat Geo WILD and was filmed in Antarctica. 

Margaret “Maggie” Amsler, a research biologist at UAB, told CBS 42 she was selected to participate in the “Hunt for the Giant Squid” documentary primarily due to her extensive knowledge of krill. 

In the documentary, Amsler is seen taking a dive over 1,000 meters into the cold waters using a submersible watercraft, and she is thought to be the first woman to do so in the Arctic waters. 

“I just feel really fortunate and lucky for the experience,” Amsler said. “You know, the fact that I’m the first woman, you know, that’s kind of cool and might serve as some sort of inspiration to young girls out there and that would be wonderful if that’s the case.”

Despite her many accomplishments, Amsler is not the type to brag; however, upon a close inspection of the photos around her office, CBS 42 learned Amsler and her husband, Dr. Charles Amsler who also works at UAB, have an island on Antarctica named after them, and she also met Bill Gates during her research there. 

 Amsler estimates her first trip to Antarctica was in 1979 or 1980 and has been to Antarctica nearly 30 times. She said she has observed major glacial movements over the years as the sea ice melts.

“The Antarctic really is changing and quite rapidly and it’s frightening to me,” Amsler said. 

Amsler said she is concerned about the effect of melting sea ice on the organisms that live in Antarctica, but also the effect it will have on coastal communities.

“What happens in Antarctic happens around the world,” Amsler said. “All that ice goes somewhere.”

Amsler, her husband and another UAB researcher recently received a grant to go back to Antarctica to study the effect of atmospheric CO2 on ocean acidity. 

“Acidic water for critters that live in the ocean is not a good thing,” Amsler said. “Especially for those who have an external skeleton, like seashells. You know, the seashells are going to start dissolving.”

Amsler told CBS 42 they plan to revisit the cold continent for that study in December.

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