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. Brent

    Another species we can fish to extinction! I personally hope deep water trenches are designated as off limits to fishing, we've done enough damage to our oceans already!

    October 15, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. McKenzie

    it is a butifal creature 🙂

    October 15, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bucks12965

    Every one of you who read this article is a nerd! Just in case you didn't know that. I've known that I am a nerd for a while.

    October 15, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • dudeman

      gay. People can like animals and not be nerds you nerd. Im gunna give you a swirly

      October 15, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harvey Wallbanger

      Better red than dead
      Better a nerd than a turd

      October 15, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ben diamante

    Bollocks! This is not a new fish species. These buggers been around for millions of years!

    October 15, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tidus

    Great! , but now people will try and catch and sell the fish..

    October 15, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Isa buckles age 10

    I wonder if maybe we go deeper for example the marianas trench?

    October 15, 2010 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. joe

    That's not a rock at the bottom left of the photo. It's actually part of a crushed Coors can....

    October 15, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Abriana Larson

      That is what I call littering and you all better not be littering just as well as the perosn that did that!! (or I will yell my head off at you!!!)

      October 15, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Hooagy

    I think these discoveries would be better served, if you keep them quite . Once we have depleted the oceans of Whales and Dolphins,they will go deep to find the meat. If it wiggles or squirms it will end up on someone's dinner plate somewhere.So do them a favor shut up about'em, someone's probably designing a decompressor trawler as we speak.$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    October 15, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harvey Wallbanger

      Were are already exploiting deep water species from 600 feet and deeper. The are trawling the bottom around sea mounts and discarding anything they don't want. This operation is more like strip mining than fishing. It is even more destructive than gill nets.

      The problem with deep water species is they tend to grow slowly. Many species do begin to reproduce until they are over forty years old and are estimated to live over 200 years. This means these species will be exhausted quickly and we will go even deeper. Just think, some of the things we are now eating are older than your grandmother.

      To make some of the commercial deep water species more appealing, the industry renames them. For example the slimehead fish is called orange roughy and the toothfish is called Chilean sea bass. Just don't develop a taste for them, they won't be around for long.

      October 15, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Abriana Larson

    I cannot belive that this fish look so...alien-like and scary almost. I don't know about ya'll but, I would think that if I had this pet, my mom would go CRAAAAAAAAZY!!!

    October 15, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Frank Rotiroti

    That is great.

    October 15, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jerry

    I didn't know god was still making stuff...

    October 15, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • brigette

      lol tats funny

      October 15, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. George Murphy

    Bring up a few & do a deep fry.. ( Light-breaded of course ..Maybe a little curry powder..) and see if we've got a marketable product here...

    October 15, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. LMNOP

    I heard this fish was gonna be the new Tea Party mascot.

    October 15, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. David

    Makes me wonder how all the stuff that the world dumps in the oceans, I mean bad stuff in containers at deep depths, what harm will that create to those newly discover, ancient creatures?

    October 15, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. The Centurian

    I hope that Al Goreleoni doesn't read this else he will claim the creatures are white because of global warming. What a great article,well written, demonstrating how REAL science works, and continues to work, as opposed to politicians who attempt to hyjack real science just to line their own pockets. My hats off to the writer, the researchers at that depth, and all who read this article and GET IT!!!!!

    October 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
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