Portmanteau is an awesome word! It means a new word that is made by putting two words together. So, my favorite new portmanteau is brinicle: brine + icicle.
I just learned about brinicles for a project I'm working on (more on that later!). Brinicles are icicles that form in the coldest oceans--the Arctic and the Antarctic--under the surface. They are pretty rare: conditions have to be just right including the temperature of the air, the temperature of the water, and the calmness of the sea. Brinicles are very fragile, so if the seas are choppy or if currents are running fast, brinicles will break as quickly as they form.
They are basically long icicles that descend from the surface. Some look like mini tornado funnels frozen in time. Others look like giant fuzzy caterpillars or sea cucumbers hanging down from the surface. If you have a really great imagination, some of them even look like fantastic chandeliers hanging in a frozen palace. If you've ever been in a cave and seen stalactites, you have the general idea. The only difference is that brinicles are made out of ice. They were first discovered by Paul Dayton and Seelye Martin, two oceanographers working in the 1970s.
Since I've never been to polar waters, I haven't seen them in person. But, luckily, there is a great video and some cool photos. Check it out!
Frozen Planet's "Icy Finger of Death"
Great photos from Wired Magazine
More photos from How Stuff Works
I'm putting this on my official list of cool things to do someday: dive in water cold enough to see brinicles form! Guess it's time to start thinking about a trip to the Arctic! Or the Antarctic! Wouldn't that be a cool adventure?