October 15th, 2010
11:54 AM ET

New fish species found deep below ocean surface

The ghostly white snailfish was found September 10 in the South Pacific.

Scientists have discovered a new species of fish living almost 4 1/2 miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

The ghostly white snailfish was found September 10 in the Peru-Chile trench in the South Pacific by an international team of marine biologists led by Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. The scientists also found cusk-eels and crustaceans living in the trench off the west coast of South America. Those creatures had never before been observed at such depths, where sunlight never penetrates and water pressure is almost 10,000 pounds per square inch.

“Our findings, which revealed diverse and abundant species at depths previously thought to be void of fish, will prompt a rethink into marine populations at extreme depths,” said Jamieson, who led researchers from Japan and New Zealand in the project.

The researchers discovered the creatures during a three-week expedition during which they took more than 6,000 images at depths between 4,500 and 8,000 meters (15,000 to 26,000 feet).

The most recent mission – August 31 to September 20 - was the seventh in three years by a collaborative research project among the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab, the University of Tokyo’s Ocean Research Institute and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research.

Previous expeditions had identified another species of snailfish in deep-sea trenches off Japan and New Zealand.

Scientists found large shrimp-like crustacean scavengers in abundance.

“To test whether these species would be found in all trenches, we repeated our experiments on the other side of the Pacific Ocean off Peru and Chile, some 6,000 miles from our last observations,” Jamieson said. “What we found was that indeed there was another unique species of snailfish living at 7,000 meters — entirely new to science, which had never been caught or seen before.”

Jamieson said scientists also observed cusk-eels in a “feeding frenzy that last 22 hours” and large shrimp-like crustacean scavengers in abundance in the trench.

“It begs the question of why and how they can live so deep in this trench but not in any other,” said Niamh Kilgallen, an expert on the creatures at the New Zealand institute.

“These findings prompt a re-evaluation of the diversity and abundance of life at extreme depths," Jamieson said.

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soundoff (495 Responses)
  1. Dockwobbler

    But, still no word on Osama Bin Laden...

    October 16, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JD

    All I have to say is..."Thank GOD for evolution! Or is it thank evolution for GOD :-)

    October 16, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KyleR

    In Russia, white Snailfish discovers you!

    October 16, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. D D Red

    Scientist have always speculated or said all life on Earth originated in the oceans. I am somewhat surprised that they are amazed or doubted that LIFE if originating in the ocean would not have colonized from top to BOTTOM of the oceans FIRST.
    The pressure does not seem to be a problem because fish tend to have equal pressure, and just like on land it makes sense that deep ocean life would evolve to use what ever level of oxygen was available, some of the stove pipe vent life forms do not use oxygen. Like the guy in the Jurassic park movie said "LIFE WILL BREAK OUT ON EARTH"

    October 16, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. thompske

    How deep is the Gulf of Mexico? I heard dispersants used during the BP oil spill may have caused the oil to sink to the bottom of the Gulf instead of making its way to the surface or shore. An entire deep-sea species might have been killed off before we even learned it was there.

    October 17, 2010 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. danny

    You people are falling for it, being manipulated into voicing your thoughts. Fishy needs a tan, that's it. Now go spend time with your family before you're all dead.

    October 17, 2010 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. alb

    maybe this was addressed in previous comments, but does anyone have any information on how these fish deal with the pressure...how come they don't implode? how are they built so that they can withstand it?

    October 17, 2010 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. andrew K

    Sux to be the fish. I guess now that it's been discovered by human beings, it's only a matter of time before we bring the new species to extinction. historically that's what we're good at even unintentionally.

    October 17, 2010 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. wallace1303

    How can the scientists keep finding new species when we all know that SUVs are destroying the earth?

    October 17, 2010 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. amos

    Hmmm. . seems to me we are still finding things we didn't know exsisted. So that means that man doesn't know everythibng. . .Well, then it must also mean that no man can say for certain that God does not exsist. . If man did know everything, which clearly this article shows he does not, . . . . if man did know everything . . .then man would be god.
    I'm guessing that no man has ever known 25 percent of everything there is to know (and that is being generous). . .perhaps God exsists in the seventy five percent man does not know. . . pretty good odds that God does exsist me thinks.

    October 17, 2010 at 1:53 am | Report abuse |
    • KyleR

      By that same logic, how can one say that God does exist? After all, mankind once KNEW that the Earth was flat. We KNEW that everything to be discovered had been discovered. Your argument is very sound, but it goes both ways.

      October 17, 2010 at 3:15 am | Report abuse |
  11. Magharlex

    If I were an atheist who based all I believed in science, and I professed to be open-minded not narrow-minded, and I read that an international team of scientist discovered life somewhere previously thought to be void of life, and that discovery will prompted a re-evaluation into the existence of life not previously known….I think I might wonder if my absence of faith is false.

    October 17, 2010 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  12. bisnotch

    @lean 6......way at the top.......can you please rephrase your question please, it sounded like jibber jabber to me....thanks and good luck with god and all :)

    October 17, 2010 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. ofalishlah

    There are still so much more in the ocean that we haven't explore, including it's creature

    October 17, 2010 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. Imaginarium of Pau

    I love the color of this fish. :) Since their breed is newly discovered, I hope they will get protected so they will not get endangered soon.

    October 17, 2010 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
  15. evos

    I will kill all of you

    October 17, 2010 at 4:25 am | Report abuse |
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