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. Ms. Alix

    Now this is pretty coooool!!

    October 15, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      It's not that cold near the volcanic rifts and smokers. It's REAL HOT there! And critters manage to survive THERE too.

      October 15, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • S to the V

      I love that, for years, it was "knowledge" that life HAD to have oxygen or sunlight(with which to produce nutrients) to survive. Then, one discovery of one. little. creature. changes EVERYTHING. They can live in complete and utter darkness, and create their own light. Oh and that oxygen stuff? Who needs that, they've got sulfur! It completely shows how much we need to think outside the constraints we THINK we know.

      October 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gumby

      S to the V – You just described science! Science is fully willing to accept new data... unlike religion, which stops at "goddidit".

      October 15, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • zanya

      Gumby, who said anything about religion? Just chill out. Not EVERY article or comment has to have negativity attached to it.

      October 15, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • bailoutsos

      It is under 720 atmospheres of pressure. Most of us cannot get off the couch with 1 atmosphere of pressure.

      October 17, 2010 at 4:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tetrapod

    That's a cool looking fish!

    Life finds a way – we are consistently surpriced at what we find in environments we previously considered too inhospitable for anything too interesting.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • dgatwood

      Which makes it all the more baffling that so many people still naively cling to the belief that we are the only pocket of life in the universe.

      October 15, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      Life just is.

      And it's probably everywhere. Both in forms we'd recognize, and not.

      October 15, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary J

      "Life finds a way – we are consistently surpriced at what we find in environments we previously considered too inhospitable for anything too interesting."

      Wait!!! You know my mother-in-law?!!!

      October 15, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • jdoggers

      yeah and you wonder why people are so stupid to say that there is no alien life on other planets. Lets face it, most people are very stupid on this planet.

      October 15, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DoubleW

    Very spectacular animal! As to whether it is edible, that's probably academic– it may be very small (I notice the report doesn't mention size) and it may taste very bad due to body chemistry. The colossal squid, also found at great depths, would provide squid rings as big as innertubes, but would taste awful and maybe even be poisonous.

    October 15, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • JUst F ong a round

      you hungry? never know till you try.

      October 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Inalong

      I'll bet they taste like chicken.

      October 15, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. wraith729

    Can you eat it?

    October 15, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • mikeybCA

      That's what she said!

      October 15, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Typical Human

    Let's capture it and put it in a zoo!

    October 15, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • rdc

      let's put it in a frying pan

      October 15, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Awesomeness

      LMBO @ rdc

      October 15, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nightroader

    name must be ghostfish for a cool fish like that.science boyz flattering when giving a cool name,please sci boyz just find them stop giving them names,just hire some others to give them names

    October 15, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ahuizotl

      They don't give them their names. They give them their 'common names', or just the names that regular everyday folks can use. Its the taxonomists who usually delivier their names (or at least it once was, I think they've excepeted more from discoverers now), their binomial nomenclature scientific names.

      October 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BOB

    It's too bad the comments here are mostly bad comedy. This is an exciting find.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendy

      Right on the money!

      October 15, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Just goes to show what a nation of morons we have become.

      October 15, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      @susan. You mean a nation of seafood lovers.

      I see it like this. The gulf is shot now. And there's no way I'm going near genetically engineered salmon. So my seafood has to come from _somewhere_. May as well be here.

      Now pass the butter would ya' please?

      October 15, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ho Hum

      Reality TV has led everyone to believe they have "talent".

      Interesting find, indeed.

      October 15, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • buz

      !. it IS imprtant

      October 15, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • 314swfl144

      @ joe, no she meant morons. Only a moron would say something like "the Gulf is shot."

      October 15, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      Actually, some of the comedy's not bad (or maybe I'm just hungry).

      But yes it is an exciting find – who would've known anything could survive at almost 700 times atmospheric pressure in total darkness? Once more causes humans to re-examine what we thought we "knew" to be true. Seems Man has a lot more to learn....

      October 16, 2010 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kat

    Aww, I want the snailfish! Kind of looks like a plecostomus.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobx

      I used to have a pleco, my granddaughter called him Spot.

      October 15, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary J

      I used to have a pleco – called him bob. Didn't taste good with garlic and butter. Fried was way better. It's an acquired taste though- start off with goldfish, move on to snail darters, and then maybe a big mac with extra sauce- and then boom! There goes the pleco.

      October 15, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      My daughter has a little red fighting fish. Keeps it in the kitchen – I think as a joke on me.

      I can't look at it and eat Sushi at the same time. LOL. Well I can.. but he starts looking like he's gonna' be my 7th Tuna Roll...

      October 15, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • buz

      i used to have a really big plec. almost 2 lbs.

      October 15, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joseph

    It's quite pretty.

    October 15, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cielo

    It makes me think that OTHER previously held beliefs will also need to be reconsidered. The denial of the existance of an animal like the Loch Ness monster was always predicated on the belief that they wouldn't have enough to eat at such deep depths. And YET here we are finding life in places we never suspected! Maybe there ARE more cryptozoological critters around than we could ever suspect!

    October 15, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ahuizotl

      Wouldn't suprise me. The entire scientific comunity may not agree that there is a living Plesiosaur at the bottom of that lake, but the majority do think that there is SOMETHING mysterious down there. The evidence they've gathered is enough to show that it is likely something other than natural lake phenomenon, like floating logs. How ever, many people think that it is more likely a new species of otter or lake eel than a plesiosaur. Me, I don't know. That lake is enormous, incredibly deep, and absolutley filled with debris to the point that you couldn't see more than two feet in front of your face, full of hidden underwater limestone caves (I think) and connected to several water outlets to the ocean. You could hide a whale in there and it could never be found. So it's a possiblity.
      For cryptozoology in general, they've recently found that barking deer in vietnam that was once thought not to exist, and they've even more recently found an entirely new species of tree kangaroo that was once only known to the aboriginies.

      Me personally? I'm betting one of these days there going to find a living trilobite in one of those deep sea trenches. Wouldn't suprise me in the slightest.

      October 15, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alistair Angus MacTavish

      Argyl: William, there's no jobs aroond here. How wull aye evar make mooney?

      William: Well, Argyl, there must be a way to increase the tourist trade. If only we could get people to want to visit this meaningless Loch!

      Argyl: People are sooooo stupid!

      Wi8lloiam: THAT'S IT!

      [Mystery solved.]

      October 16, 2010 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ivan

    Any body else bothered by the fact that even scientists misuse the phrase "begs the question"?

    October 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyler Durden The Narrator

      When in rome...

      October 15, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • mustabeen

      Nope, just you!

      October 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • idhernand

      I am fully aware that this is a nit-picky thing to focus on when there's new fish and stuff happening out there, but there must be a defensor of grammar! The foundation of the language must not be allowed to be eroded away in the name of catering to the masses.

      October 15, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kam

      Unless you're speaking Old English, you have no place to talk about the eroding of grammar. I mean, we use the word "you" for both singular and plural without batting an eye.

      October 15, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cam

      Kam, that's why there's "y'all"

      October 15, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • FlyingFish

      Nope.... It would bother me somewhat if an English professor misused a phrase, but not so much for a marine biologist.

      October 15, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ruby

      Yes.

      October 15, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yeah Right

      No

      October 15, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      Language evolves. Deal with it.

      October 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Grammar is important: Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse & helping your uncle jack off a horse.

      October 15, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • heatstroker

      @ Jack
      Brilliant!!!

      October 15, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • bailoutsos

      Jack Grammar is important: Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse & helping your uncle jack off a horse. @@@@ So, you helped you uncle do which?

      October 15, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • drea

      @ Jack.. LOL!!! I'm quoting you on facebook, Sir.

      October 15, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • ziggy

      @idhernand – And yet you use the term "nit-picky" – what does picking lice off of someone or something have to do with your opinion.

      October 15, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. thumperfeets

    we have to hurry up and kill them, duh! is no one paying attention to how humans operate???

    October 15, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendy

      poorly at times

      October 15, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whatha?

      More like all the time.

      October 15, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Les

    I would like to hear the creationists explain this one....

    October 15, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • michelle

      I guess I don't understand why this would be a problem for "creationists". God made many beautiful and wonderful creatures that live in many places all over the earth. Why would the fact that this one was recently found be any problem? Or are you thinking that right now we know everything there is to know, and if anything new is found out that must mean it is, in fact brand new? How narcissistic. I hope I spelled that correctly, I'm still evolving.

      October 15, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • tomasz

      "thank god for this beautiful creature" – very easy, creationists don't even have to think 🙂

      October 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cam

      Um. God made fish and told them to procreate?

      October 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • FlyingFish

      Don't forget.... all in 6 days. Around 6000 years ago.

      October 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Awesomeness

      God made everything, PERIOD! If you read the bible it says that He "made the fish of the sea, the foul of the air, and every living thing that creepeth upon the Earth..." He created it all. It's not his fault that humans just haven't noticed everything yet.

      October 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fisherman

      Ans: It's a catfish that got lost down there and dcouldn't find its way back.

      October 15, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      ditto to what Michelle said. How is this fish – in particular – a problem for Creationists?? If you're really looking for "problem" organisms, this is an odd choice.

      October 15, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ciggy

      Awesomeness,

      God may have made the fowl of the air, but humans most definately made the foul!

      October 15, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Awesomeness

      @ Ciggy, that is so true! HAHAHA!! Excuse my typo and thanks for pointing that out 😉

      October 15, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • creationist

      God created all fish.

      October 15, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      Who really cares what the creationists think.So long as their view doesn't become the dominant one, then science will be fine.

      October 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Here's an explanation........God created this fish on the fifth day of the creation week.....end explanation. Believing that an all powerful God could create this creature is not a problem for me, that is because I love and serve the One who created this fish. Could it be the reason why you are opposed to believing that God created this fish is not because of all the "evidence" of evolution, but rather because to do so would mean that you'd have to own up to the fact that He made you and.....uh oh.......you'd have to be accountable to Him with all those annoying "thou shalt not"s that tend to cramp the style of our innate sinful desires?? Often what we believe about origins really has less to do with the "facts" , and more to do with our worldview and what is convenient to believe. Something to think about.

      October 15, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      And Adam lived 900 years.. Sure.....

      October 15, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      But wouldn't the pressure from the extra 14,000 feet of water that piled on the earth during Noah's flood have killed those things? In all seriousness people...the Bible is NOT a science book. To some degree or another, all religions identify a Creator and I personally believe that life is not truly a random event BUT.... the earth was NOT created in 6 days a few thousand years ago, there was NOT a worldwide flood and there has clearly been EVOLUTION and INCREASING COMPLEXITYof life on the planet...period, fact. This is supported by carbon dating, fossil records, mitochondrial DNA records etc, etc. And while I do not for a minute pretend to understand God...who knows...maybe He works via these mechanisms (as an example, we used to think that lightning was an expression of Gods anger...now we know its from static electricity). Father Bob and Dr Robertson (my high school religion and biology teachers respectively) had it right - in relgion class you learn Genesis - this teaches the "why". In Biology class you learn evolution - this teaches the "how". Its sad to see how ignorant of this we've become

      October 15, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary J

      I believe god could have created it- he created my mother-in-law and she's about 900 years old. If evolution is correct why do see all life forms in various stages of potentially succesful and unsuccessful developmental stages?
      I can appreciate those who question creationism and adhere to science. However, science needs to be repeatable. Believing in evolution is not pure science- it is a belief system just as much as any religion. Btw- I'm going with the god prospect. The story ends so much better that way:)

      October 15, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      Dude, I've got some news for you. The 'other guy' created the Mother In Law.

      October 15, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary J

      Omg! That explains so much!! Rotflmao!!!

      October 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • cedarrapids

      'If evolution is correct why do see all life forms in various stages of potentially succesful and unsuccessful developmental stages?'
      Evolution is an ongoing process, even human kind is still evolving, we are not 'immune' to it. There is no such thing as a final stage where it stops, except in extinction.

      October 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • JNCali

      A creationist would probably say that "on the 5th day, God created the all of the sea creatures" You may not think that God could handle creating fish that live so deep in the water.. It's not like God is smart or powerful or anything....

      October 15, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Couple of things to note. First, there is many assumptions used in carbon dating and other dating methods. Modern creation scientists have produced dating supportive of a young earth. Also, the Evolution we see today (i.e. furry dogs being sected in cold evironments over short haired dogs,etc., etc.) is LATERAL evolution. That IS obsevable and repeatable, so I have no problem with that. What we have never and will never observe is VERTICAL evolution, the "Molecules to Man" that only exisis in artists renderings.

      So don't mistake the two........don't swallow the LIE of vertical evolution just because of a Lateral evolution evidenced in a few finch beaks, peppered moths, and fruit flies...........show me a fruit fly evolve into an elephant and then we'll talk.

      October 15, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • dudeman

      @Les What are you talking about man? it is the evolutionists that say life cant be in certain places of the earth due to the need of sunlight and oxygen. It is the evolutionist theory that has been broken here. Deal with that. Also.. way to steer of course with your bigotry, i mean we are looking at something beautiful that God made and you have to say something demeaning. Ill pray for you.

      October 15, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • sssimon

      The problem is that Genesis says that Adam named every living thing. Now how did Adam get himself more than 20,000 feet down a deep sea trench???

      October 15, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • JR

      Creationists.....hey, that's me. Tell me....how do you as an evolutionist explain it?

      October 15, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • cherikee

      Creationists don't explain anything, they just make up some new BS! Until a creationism even hints at where god came from, it is immediately dismissed. Where did god come from? Where did that come from? Where did that come from? Where did that come from? Where did that come from? Where did that come from? Where did that come from? Where did that come from? Where did that come from? Where did that come from? Etc. THE ANSWER: We don't know, Repeat, we don't know.....easy? right? good. Science is the search for the answer, not all of it is correct, but it is the best we have.......

      October 16, 2010 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      Huh? What's there to explain? That it took Man so long to discover what He created long ago? Or that it "evolved" to adapt to its living environment? Who said evolution wasn't a tool used in the creation process?

      October 16, 2010 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |
  14. http://twitter.com/whybs

    When will it be available for purchase?

    My fish tank is built with bullet-proof glass and can be pressurized to 10,000 pounds per square inch!

    October 15, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • KyleR

      You have a bullet proof aquarium? Gang warfare much of a problem for your fish? Dat'll learn ya to be buyin up all dem rival fishez son!

      October 17, 2010 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. 'http://twitter.com/whybs

    These fish know how bad humans are, and have evolved over the years to ensure maximum distance!

    October 15, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guester

      Very smart fish

      October 15, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      And the harder they are to catch, the more tasty they are. LOL.

      October 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
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