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. barlow

    It is painful to see the phrase "begs the question" used so often when people really mean "raises the question."

    October 16, 2010 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Canuck

      Indeed it is. My next thought is that the original meaning of "beg the question" is probably doomed and the English language will be the poorer for it.

      October 16, 2010 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave Ladd

      They are both colloquialisms. Neither is more valid than the other. RAISES, may invoke the notion of bringing up from the depths so I vote for that one. I doubt if begging would have much impact on the fishy.

      October 16, 2010 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
    • diane

      I don't know I like that phrase and let's face it it is hardly the only phrase or words that are used incorrectly in america. Ever heard these ones or those ones? That drives me crazy, it is these or those only!!!

      October 16, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Raford

      I think the phrase "begs US to question" or even "begs ME to question" might be a little more reasonable. Nonetheless, I agree with you barlow. That phrase is a little hokey.

      October 16, 2010 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      Interesting–I didn't know there was a difference! What does "begs the question" really mean?

      October 16, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Neary

      Begs the question is a technical term in philosophy in which the question is a logical proposition to be proved, but one in which the proof itself is assumed in the way the proposition(question) is posed. Begs the question means something like presumes the answer, rather than raises the question. Here is a good site http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

      October 17, 2010 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. Z

    Sperm with wings!

    October 16, 2010 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
    • jim

      Thanks for insight to your intelligence.

      October 16, 2010 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
    • thinkyourfree?

      i loled

      October 16, 2010 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
    • john Sonpull

      @ jim: thanks for being a stuck up, fartknocker....

      October 16, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  3. Tranquility Tanks

    I have seen something like that in the Denver aquarium!

    October 16, 2010 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Johnny Jacob


      October 16, 2010 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. colinA

    sometimes i think that scientists are the most stupid people. They cant understand how fish survive so deep in water where the pressures are so great. well its no different to fish that are living at 100 feet deep or 1000 feet below the surface. the pressure inside the fish is the same as the surrounding water..sometimes scientists are so clever that they are stoopid.

    October 16, 2010 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
    • ScienceIsTheFuture

      And if you knew anything at all about chemistry, you'd know that pressure has a significant impact on various processes, including those of biological importance.

      October 16, 2010 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Russ

      Not so simple. Almost all fish have an air bladder that keeps them swimming upright. What do these fish have? There are a lot of things they don't understand about life at extreme pressures.

      October 16, 2010 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
    • JJinCVCA

      And colinA... you're saying this as a scientist, correct? Am I correct in saying you've studied marine biology and oceanography more extensively than professionals in those fields?

      October 16, 2010 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |
    • gwennaelle

      lulz @ ColinA.
      Wait until you AT LEAST get that undergrad done before running around thinking you've learned more than these scientists!

      October 16, 2010 at 3:30 am | Report abuse |
    • CH

      you canNOT call these highly educated biologists stupid when you cant even spell "stoopid"

      October 16, 2010 at 4:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Sherman

      The biggest issue at that pressure and depth is oxygen. You are right, there is a balance internally and externally so the fish doesn't actually experience 'pressure'. But how does any living organism get oxygen? Most dissolved oxygen happens at the surface with wind and waves. Down at 10,000 feet there is practically no oxygen.

      October 16, 2010 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
    • megan


      Actually, there is a subsurface oxygen minimum, but then it increases at depth. There's no oxygen limitation in the deep sea.

      October 16, 2010 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • ivegotnews

      ColinA...a lot of scientists would love to have you as a specimen..!!

      October 16, 2010 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
    • KyleR

      @colinA- Thank you for your expertise on this matter. Just curious, though, how did you feel when they discovered that the world is not flat, and that the Earth is not the center of the universe?

      October 16, 2010 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • ben

      Colin, there are a lot of complicated issues here that someone with your very low level of education could not possibly understand. I assure you, it's not that scientists are dumb, it's that you are.

      October 16, 2010 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Pedestrian(SP?)

      Wow..Colin, takin it on the chin. Dropped in DRUDGE...You nerds are vicious

      October 16, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • gge

      lol, leave the kid alone you guys, 😀

      October 16, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rosita Asano

    W7RKD & Dina K. if you' both were born with just a little common sense, you both would have come up with something more sensible and intelligent to say, but then we can't expect too much for we all know LIBERALISM IS A MENTAL DISORDER. You two are living proof.

    October 16, 2010 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Wow

      Lol, the funny part is Rosita, with your comment you proved your lack of knowledge. Dina K is not a liberal but rather a conservative trying to be sarcastic about people blaming bush. If you need a definition of sarcasm I would be glad to help you with that as well.

      October 16, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JIMMI


    October 16, 2010 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
    • marc

      im gonna go ahead and say the fish is dead...dont tell anyone

      October 16, 2010 at 5:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Rex Chandler

      That is actually a good point. I wonder if they thought of that?

      October 16, 2010 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
    • KyleR

      They could just be vestigial.

      October 16, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • gge

      God did it.

      October 16, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tomcat

    where the hell is aquaman?

    October 16, 2010 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kyle

    Another amazing find for science. For those who mention god, please stop being delusional and look at the REAL world.

    October 16, 2010 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
    • The Doctor

      I see G-d everywhere. Put down the anger, and you might too!

      October 16, 2010 at 3:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Justina

      Another lonely atheist who needs to remember God. Just repent and believe Him.

      October 16, 2010 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      I saw Mary's face in my toast and God in a ham sandwich. Am I delusional or just plain crazy? Hey, if you believe in talking snakes, a man living in a whale, or that everything came to be in six days 6,000 years ago, why not see God in a ham sandwich?

      October 16, 2010 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Rex Chandler

      What is with all the hate?

      October 16, 2010 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Nathan Green

      I can't help but think people who are religious are either a little slow, delusional, brainwashed, or unquestioning. For 2000 years they have said there is a God but he has never shown himself. That is weird. God is the ultimate absentee landlord. People who are atheists are not lonely. We just don't have imaginary friends.

      October 16, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      umm actually God has shown himself many times in this world. one of the times is how jesus christ fulfilled all 40 some odd prophecies written in the old testament 2000 years after it was written (most, if not all, of which could not be orchestrated on purpose)

      October 17, 2010 at 4:34 am | Report abuse |
    • kasey

      yes, God has shown himself many times, but if you choose not to believe then you will always find some way to negate the fact that God exists even if he came right up to you and slapped you in the face. What would be the point though if everyone knew for certain that God did exist, your faith in Him is unique because you know with your soul that God exists and you chose to follow him because you know him to be God.

      October 17, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  9. Stan

    Ahhh!!!! Something NEW to BBQ! Woo! (8-D

    October 16, 2010 at 2:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. genji

    ghostly white snailfish are beautiful and should be given a name like angel wings.

    October 16, 2010 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      This is sweet. But it does sound a little bit like a like out of Napolean Dynamite.

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

      Dinner comes to mind.

      October 16, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Paul

    Really, a fish 4.5 miles beneath the ocean surface? I hope our tax money wasn't wasted on this project, what about starving families, jobs, sustainable energy, etc...?

    October 16, 2010 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave J

      HEY BUDDY !! Maybe it's about time you pulled your head out of the sand. If our governments spent all they're available resources on social programs they'd breed a bunch of lazy parasites. They need exploration to find ways to pull themselves out of the mess they're in already, and I if quite a few people are enlightened along the way isn't that more productive towards the goal then your pathetically ignorant remark!

      October 16, 2010 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
    • TeeWee

      I see your point, they should be spending the money on the people who need help here, however, (small chance though, I know) what if they found out that this fish or something else they find down there could actually give them new ideas or insight into treating things like cancer up here? I'm pretty sure that there have been great strides into curing diseases or treating sick patients by looking "outside the box". I know it's a slim chance, but by taking these chances, they could further their knowledge and have nature be the teacher, so to speak.

      October 16, 2010 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
    • NVHighwayman

      @ Paul – you don't see the other side of the picture apparently; you wonder about "what about starving families, jobs?" Well how do you know this fish isn't in such abundance that starving families won't be eating snailfishes soon, and jobs, these scientists have a job, their job is to look for snailfish, and maybe when they find a super abundance of them, think of all the people that will be employed by fishing them out and processing them. It all starts with a chance.

      October 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Markimus2w1

      Yes let's give all our tax dollars to the less fortunate, if that's the case I'll quit my job and become a fat lazy slob, so long as you keep paying for me...

      October 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Real Rick

    A few years ago there were pictures of a lot of deep-water fish after the tsunami went through. I tried to find them but had a pc crash since then. Oh well

    October 16, 2010 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. WOW

    Leave it to humans to find every last life form on earth and find a way to scr3w it up.

    October 16, 2010 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. Lauren (lckk)

    If a strange, mystical fish exists and no one is around to see it, does it still emit the sound of Sigur Ros music?

    October 16, 2010 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
    • gwennaelle

      lol love it!

      October 16, 2010 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |
    • marc

      i second gwennaelle

      October 16, 2010 at 5:40 am | Report abuse |
  15. RobbinGraves

    If only I could find a 10,000
    Psi fish tank on Ebay,and like a million dollar grant
    I would own a discovery that solves the boredom of me...

    October 16, 2010 at 3:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      thats interesting.. there is probably bigger and badder thinks down there. next think u know aliens are gonna come down

      October 16, 2010 at 4:15 am | Report abuse |
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