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. Chellle

    if anyone remembers there was a new strange looking fish found in the Gulf of Mexico after the oil spilll. I think there is lots more to discover... very intresting.

    October 16, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  2. Hempman

    I have noticed a lot of the comments posted have nothibg to with the subject in yhis article ,,i,e.librelism,sarah palin,ect, This is sciene not politics! However this story lacks basic information such as sise,weight,diet,etc. very facinating though. Also people learn to spell correctly please.

    October 16, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • wrong

      You spelt size wrong its not sise, your comment is now null and void for you couldn't even uphold your own.

      October 16, 2010 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      also, fascinating is spelled with an "s" for future reference. But you make a good point otherwise.

      October 16, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • KyleR

      @wrong- In an ironic twist of fate, you misspelled the word "spelled". Spelt is an ancient variety of wheat.

      October 16, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Yum-Yum

    Mac-Daddy,.......deep fried baby, with some sauce!!!!!

    October 16, 2010 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. ChristianANNOYEDbyChristianLunatics!

    It really is a sad world when EVERY article i read now has non-stop crazy Christians bringing God into EVERY conversation. Its obvious these people are just ignorant people who HAPPEN to be Christian and since they are ignorant its all they know how to talk about. Unreal that in an article with only 1 page of comments there are 18 replies with God in the text. People GET A LIFE! I am a Christian and i WALK THE WALK I dont go into rooms to do nothing but rub God in peoples faces. You are in need of medication. AND YES i know God talked to you and told you to come here and talk about him. He really needs you that bad.

    October 16, 2010 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. galaxie500

    W7RKD OM, ur post zero beated the frequency. 599+

    October 16, 2010 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. Revilo La Pu

    Many who don't seem to understand oxygen saturation in cells. In blood cells particularly, the process (oxygen saturation) goes under drastic change, when placed under such great pressure. Even at 3 atmospheres, “O” levels that would kill human life actually aid and speed up the healing process (see hyper baric oxygen therapy).

    Thereby one may conclude lower “O” levels are required to support life at such depths.

    Oh, just a note about God; As just brought out in the news the #1 survival tool (chili miners) “faith in God!”
    Psalms 53:1 ....The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.....
    You can never win an argument with a fool, so don’t bother.

    October 16, 2010 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. diane

    Well, they might be the only things that survive if we don't stop polluting and overfishing the oceans.

    October 16, 2010 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  8. dave

    The design of this fish looks very much like our modern aircraft, which we know man designed, however this fish just kinda evolved into this shape over millions of years.............

    October 16, 2010 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  9. MM

    If it's whole and looks like this that far down, what happens to the poor thing if you bring it to the surface? Does it expand to many times its' normal size??

    October 16, 2010 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  10. gaybunnypirate

    looks like a sperm

    October 16, 2010 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. swansonmania

    I like big butts and I cannot lie.

    October 16, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff

    What I especially like about articles like this is that they prove that life can evolve in environments no one thought possible. So what? Well, it increases the likelihood of finding life on other worlds that are not necessarily thought of as hospitable.

    October 16, 2010 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Conibear330

    No one has ever seen these fish before but she's an expert on them? How does that work?

    October 16, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. Philo

    Who writes and article introducing the 'snailfish", includes a photo, and doesn't describe the SIZE of the damn fish? Is it 1/8th of an inch long or 32 feet long?

    October 16, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  15. Joyce

    Who cares? And who is paying for this research? Maybe we need to rethink our priorities. The US economy is sinking fast, yet we have enough money to find new fish.....which would have been there whether we knew it or not. And why did we need to know? Good to know this fish exists...but why did we need to know? Just like lots of NIH funded research, someone should be evaluating the practical value of it all. It's nice to know the average number of hairs on the nose of a fly, but does it matter? We cannot afford to pay for research that has no practical benefit, when there are so many other economic issues to deal with.

    October 16, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      What part of "international team of marine biologists led by Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland" made you think that the US had anything at all to do with this research? Arrogant much?

      October 16, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • gge


      October 16, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • darren

      I believe the design of anti freeze essentially came from what we have learned about fish. Think about that next time you drive yourself to work (or maybe the unemployment office).

      October 16, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
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