Scientists have discovered three new fish species that have been hiding deep in the ocean. The fish were discovered in the Atacama Trench, which is located about seven miles below the surface in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru and Chile.
An international team consisting of 40 scientists from 17 nations embarked on an expedition to search deep in the ocean with their camera and other necessary equipment. During their exploration, they discovered the new fish species, which is believed to be a type of a snailfish, roughly five miles below the surface. They haven’t yet come with a scientific name for the fish, so they simply called them pink, blue and purple Atacama snailfish.
“These fish are part of the Liparidae family and do not conform to the preconceived stereotypical image of what a deep-sea fish should look like,” said a representative from England’s Newcastle University, which participated in the expedition, in a statement on Monday. “Instead of giant teeth and a menacing frame, the fishes that roam in the deepest parts of the ocean are small, translucent, bereft of scales — and highly adept at living where few other organisms can.”
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The team captured footage of the new fish species and even managed to capture one fish by setting a trap. Dr. Thomas Linley, who works at Newcastle University, explained that snailfish are undoubtedly classified as one of the top predators deep in the ocean. He pointed out that their biggest advantage is their agility.
“There is something about the snailfish (fish of the family Liparidae) that allows them to adapt to living very deep. Beyond the reach of other fish they are free of competitors and predators,” Linely explained. “Their gelatinous structure means they are perfectly adapted to living at extreme pressure and in fact the hardest structures in their bodies are the bones in their inner ear which give them balance and their teeth. Without the extreme pressure and cold to support their bodies they are extremely fragile and melt rapidly when brought to the surface.”
Other than the new snailfish species, the team also spotted and recorded rare footage of long-legged isopods which are also known as munnopsids. These creatures can grow to the size of an adult hand. They are known for their small bodies and surprisingly long legs. They also have an odd swimming pattern, as they swim backwards and upside-down.
“We don’t know what species of munnopsid these are, but it’s incredible to have caught them in action in their natural habitat — especially the flip they do as they switch from swimming to walking mode,” Linley said in a statement.
The team behind the discovery of the new fish species deep in the ocean is enthusiastic about continuing to study it and will present their findings, followed by video footage and photos, at the Challenger Conference 2018 at Newcastle University, which is being held this week.
Check out this footage of the new fish species: