Three New Fish Species Discovered in Extreme Ocean Depths

first_imgStay on target More than 80 percent of Earth’s oceans are still unexplored. But researchers like Alan Jamieson and Thomas Linley are working to change that.Joining an expedition to the Atacama Trench, the Newcastle University scientists helped uncover information about life in one of the deepest places on the planet.Among their discoveries are what the 40-strong team believe to be three new species of sea snails, known as “the pink, the blue, and the purple Atacama Snailfish.”The colorful creatures (members of the Liparidae family) were captured on camera feeding and interacting some 4.6 miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.Their presence, however, may not be the most shocking detail: Analysts were surprised to find that these deep-sea animals do not fit the preconceived stereotype.Instead of giant teeth and a menacing frame, the fish are small, translucent, scale-less, and, essentially, highly adept at living where few organisms can.“There is something about the snailfish that allows them to adapt to living very deep,” postdoctoral research associate Linley said in a statement. “Beyond the reach of other fish they are free of competitors and predators.”Appearing active and “very well-fed,” these snailfish are probably at the top of the local food chain—predator to other invertebrate prey.Newcastle scientists and engineers worked for five years developing technology for the exploration of ultra-deep environments, like the Atacama Trench, which runs nearly 3,700 miles along the west coast of South America.On a recent expedition, the team deployed their baited camera system, which takes up to four hours to sink to the bottom of the ocean floor, a total of 27 times. More than 100 hours of video and 11,468 photographs were captured at the seabed.Analysts even managed to capture one of the new species, which, when removed from the extreme pressure and cold of their natural habitat, “are extremely fragile and melt rapidly,” according to Linley.The specimen was in very good condition and is currently being described by the Newcastle group, with help of colleagues from the US and London’s Natural History Museum.Watch the video above to see the slimy snailfish, with their long tadpole-esque bodies and almost fluorescent complexion.Researchers also filmed “astonishingly rare” footage of long-legged crustaceans known as Munnopsids—about the size of an adult hand. Though the exact species remains unknown, Linley is excited about this “incredible” find.“Especially the flip they do as they switch from swimming to walking mode,” he added.U.S. institutions are also making great strides underwater: MIT recently introduced a soft robotic fish that swims alongside real seafood. And earlier this year, 100-plus new marine species were discovered around Bermuda. Read more about fish and Earth’s oceans.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Watch: Great White Shark Bumps Into Boat Near Whale CarcassMan Paddles 2,900 Miles Across Pacific to Help Curb Ocean Pollution last_img read more

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