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. Jim

    It looks like an albino sea robin.

    October 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. marine43

    Libs and atheists snarky smarta$$es as usual. Hey we don't get on you for not believing in a higher power. Why put us down for our faith? You all had plenty of faith for Obummer????

    October 16, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Anthony

    Good grief. I knew it was only a matter of time before all the brainwashed reigious robots would come out of the woodwork to recite their nonsense fairy tales. Just like good brainwashed robots do.

    October 16, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. 4thVoice

    If that thing wasn't blind before the picture, it is now.

    October 16, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Reverend Mittlips

    How come there ain't no BLACK fish down there?? What did them WHITE fish do to all the BLACK fish??

    October 16, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sapere aude

    The "Jewish Zombie" referred to above had one message; Love your fellow man as you do yourself. Beyond that, God is specifically defined as Love. Since atheists embrace the concept of Love and forgiveness, they in fact manifest a concept of demiurge by default.

    October 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sparky

    I find this new fish to be exciting yet provocotive. My asparagus like toes began to curl wildly as I stared at this amazing fish. As I day dreamed about catching a new species like this snailfish, my bowels be began to perculate. Imagine slapping this fish in hot oiled frying pan with beer batter. Lathered in tarter sauce, oh my, the choppers are beginning to salivate like the dickens. I must run out now and get some fishsticks.

    October 16, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe-John

    I really hate it when they go to the trouble to describe a new species of fish and never even MENTION how it tastes.

    October 16, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Auntie Sammie

    Why do these anti-religion zealots come out everywhere anymore? I believe God created the heavens and the earth. That said, it doesn't mean original species can't evolve into something different. I mean, if a black man and a white woman procreate, you usually get a mix of both. It works the same with anything! When a poodle and a lab mix you get a labradoodle. What is the argument? Why the hatred?

    And furthermore, you can't be a denier of God and believe exclusively in evolution but still believe in global warming. Because if you believe species can evolve, then you can't deny that the climate evolves in cyclical fashion. Because frankly, if a cyclical climate didn't occur then species evolution affected by the climate wouldn't occur and we'd be visiting wooly mammoths in the zoo instead of elephants.

    October 16, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jimmy

    Preheat oven to 450. While oven is preheating, saute garlic in butter and add 1 tsp of dill. Let butter cool and bush butter mixture on Ghostly White Snailfish. Wrap fish in foil and bake for 15 minutes or until meat flakes with a fork. Enjoy with a red zinfandel.

    October 16, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sony

    Cool looking species!

    October 16, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sony

    I like reading all the comments on this lol funny! cool new species !

    October 16, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ockyboy

    The future looks very bright for these fish. They have few predators and an abundant food supply; they feed primarily off the US economy.

    October 16, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Carl

    Nearly five miles of water down. Pretty amazing.

    October 16, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Charles carithers

    One-hundred fifty years ago the people of the day thought there was nothing new to learn. When will we learn that we never learn. Wonderful story of discovery.

    October 16, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
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