World’s deepest fish found in Western Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench

Snail fish

The fish moves in from the bottom-left of the image towards the baited lander. Photo Credit: BBC

Scientists have discovered a new species of deep sea fish which was filmed 8,145 metres below the surface, making it the deepest living fish ever discovered. This recording has beaten the previous record for the deepest fish in the world existing in the Japan trench by over 500 metres.

This new species of fish was first observed in November 2014 during a 30 day international expedition led by Jeff Drazen and Patty Fryer of the University of Hawaii to the Mariana Trench – the deepest place on Earth. The research differed from other deep sea trench expeditions by exploring life across the entire region rather than solely concentrating on the deepest part of the trench.

In the video clip, the new species appears to be approximately 6-10 inches in length. It has a bulbous head, an unusual snout, a tail that allows it t glide delicately through the water and an almost completely gelatinous, transparent body with winglike fins.

Scientists believe it is an entirely new species of snailfish although there is no confirmation. Unfortunately, the researchers were unable to catch the specimen so they cannot provide a scientific name and will remain nameless until someone can catch it.

Other species of snailfish live in shallower depths of other trenches. Both the Kermadec Trench near New Zealand and the Japan Trench further North have their own unique species of snailfish. They are able to tolerate the extreme conditions found at such deep depths by having higher levels of a chemical called osmolyte trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), helping proteins maintain their shape and not fold. The amount of TMAO in fish cells increases with depth although there is a limit. It is thought that below 8500 metres, their bodies would have so much TMAO that the osmotic pressure would reverse and water would be drawn in, which would likely cause their cells to collapse. This new record breaking creature therefore lives near the edge of survivable pressures.

 

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Lucy Grable

Lucy Grable

MSc Species Identification and Survey Skills student at Reading Uni | BSc Marine Zoology | Website Editor MARINElife | Zanzibar humpback whale researcher|Marine wildlife enthusiast

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