Scientists Believe Tiny Sea Creatures Can Help Find Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was an international flight with 239 passengers that took off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and was en route to Beijing, China, but tragically disappeared from all radar systems on March 8, 2014.

The search for the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 still continues over ten years later, as it has yet to be determined what led to the disappearance of Flight MH370.

Just a year after the tragic incident, a flaperon linked to MH370 was discovered clinging to barnacles that were washed ashore on Reunion Island, which is located on the coast of Africa.

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Scientists now believe the barnacles could give them a new lead where MH370’s wreckage is located.

Scientists and researchers are attempting to decode the gooseneck barnacles called Lepas anatifera, which the MH370’s flaperon was found attached to back in 2015.

By decoding the information from the Lepas anatifera, researchers believe they can trace the path to the flaperon’s impact site.

Oceanographer David Griffin, tasked with finding the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, shared, “We stumbled upon something that gave much more certainty about the plane’s whereabouts than we anticipated.”

Per New York Magazine:

For the first year and a half after it vanished on March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 represented an unprecedented kind of aviation mystery, one whose only clues were a set of cryptic electronic signals suggesting the plane had crashed in the Indian Ocean west of Australia. Sixteen months later, in July 2015, a piece of its right wing called a flaperon washed ashore on the French island of Réunion, on the other side of the ocean. Here at last was physical evidence that the plane and its 239 souls really had flown into the remote southern patch of ocean and crashed.

Better still, the flaperon carried with it evidence that may help locate the plane and solve the mystery once and for all: a population of gooseneck barnacles called Lepas anatifera. Like the rings of a tree, their shells contain a record of their life. Decode that information and it may be possible to trace their path on the flaperon backward to the impact site and the mystery would be solved. “We stumbled upon something that gave much more certainty about the whereabouts of the plane than we anticipated,” says David Griffin, who led a team of Australian government scientists tasked with solving the case.

The flaperon and its Lepas spurred a decade of fruitful worldwide research into a previously obscure organism and unlocked the creature’s potential to serve as a natural data logger in all kinds of investigations, from tracking “ghost nets” that endanger wildlife to finding missing boats and even investigating mysterious deaths. But as marine biologists applied their new knowledge to the case of the missing plane, they found that instead of resolving mysteries, the barnacles revealed new ones.

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