Researchers Discover Deepest Fish Ever In The Ocean

Posted: Dec 2 2017, 12:04pm CST | by , Updated: Dec 2 2017, 12:10pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
Researchers Discover Deepest Ever Fish in the Ocean
CT scan of the Mariana snailfish. Credit: Adam Summers/University of Washington

The deepest ocean fish thrives at depths of about 26,200 feet along the Mariana Trench

In the dark depths of the ocean, researchers have discovered a new species of fish. The fish, named Marina snailfish, lives in Mariana Trench at the depths of around 8,000 meters (26,200 feet) below the ocean surface, making it the world’s deepest fish found yet.

Mariana Trench located in Western Pacific Ocean contains the deepest point on Earth and has long been a source of fascination for researchers. The new snaifish was originally caught during expeditions in 2014 and then in early 2017, but it was not until now that researchers have formally identified it as a new species and gave it a name.

“This is the deepest fish that's been collected from the ocean floor, and we're very excited to have an official name," said lead author Mackenzie Gerringer from University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories. "They don't look very robust or strong for living in such an extreme environment, but they are extremely successful."

Small, translucent, scaleless Mariana snailfish thrives at such depths of ocean where only few animals exist. They cluster together in the form of groups and feed on tiny crustaceans and shrimp. However, very little is known about how these fish can survive harsh conditions thousands of feet below the surface.

“Snailfishes have adapted to go deeper than other fish and can live in the deep trenches. Here they are free of predators, and the funnel shape of the trench means there's much more food," said co-author Thomas Linley of Newcastle University. "There are lots of invertebrate prey and the snailfish are the top predator. They are active and look very well-fed."

During research trips in recent years, scientists have conducted a few comprehensive surveys of the trench and its inhabitants and found active thriving communities there. The discovery of fish species can provide insight into the physiological adaptations of animals to this high-pressure environment.

"There are a lot of surprises waiting," said Gerringer. "It's amazing to see what lives there. We think of it as a harsh environment because it's extreme for us, but there's a whole group of organisms that are very happy down there."

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