On a recent expedition in the Pacific Ocean, a team of marine scientists captured images of what they are calling “the world’s deepest fish.”
During a research expedition that began in August 2022, the team of scientists from universities in Australia and Japan set a new record for the deepest fish ever caught on film, at 8,336 meters, or 27,349 feet, and for the deepest fish ever captured, at 8,022 meters, or 26,318 feet, according to a press release from The University of Western Australia.
You might expect fish hanging out in the deepest, darkest parts of the Pacific Ocean to be pretty weird-looking creatures. And in this case you’d be somewhat correct. The fish the scientists discovered is called a snailfish, and it’s scaleless with loose, gelatinous skin. Its tadpole-shaped body is almost translucent in appearance, making it quite unusual in appearance.
Snailfish have been studied by marine biologists for years. In 2017, researchers from the University of Hawai’i at MÄnoa and Britain’s Newcastle University found snailfish at depths of over 26,000 feet.
But now we know that snailfish can thrive at even deeper depths: The newly-released findings from the University of Western Australia and Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology reveal that their team discovered snailfish living at 27,000 feet below the surface.
The researchers captured a video of what they’ve dubbed the “world’s deepest fish” swimming in the Izu-Ogasawara Trench, which is south of Japan. Watch it on YouTube here:
The snailfish were filmed and collected by the UWA researchers and the Kaiyodai researchers. They realized then that they had discovered a previously unknown species of the genus Pseudoliparis. This new species was dubbed Pseudoliparis belyaevi.
The two-month-long expedition was focused on exploring the Pacific’s Izu-Ogasawara and Ryukyu trenches at varying depths. Trenches are narrow depressions on the seafloor and are formed by the convergence of the earth’s tectonic plates. Organisms that live at this depth had to evolve to be able to withstand the crushing hydrostatic pressure.
“The Japanese trenches were incredible places to explore; they are so rich in life, even all the way at the bottom,” said Alan Jamieson, head of the Minderoo-UWA Deep Sea Research Centre, said in a statement. “We have spent over 15 years researching these deep snailfish. There is so much more to them than simply the depth, but the maximum depth they can survive is truly astonishing.”
As scientists continue to utilize technology to delve deeper into the ocean than ever before, we can only imagine what other wonderful marine creatures await discovery.