Translucent fish without scales discovered deep in the Pacific Ocean

14 September, 2018, 10:58 | Author: Kelly Sanders
  • Atacama snailfish. Credit Newcastle University

The Hadal Trenches are one of the last great frontiers in marine science and the deepest places on Earth. For the moment, those responsible for the expedition call these species pro their colour: pink, blue and purple.

Among the creatures found there, the scientists discovered the three new species of fish, which are actually new species of snailfish.

They do not conform to the stereotypical image of a deep sea creature. Instead of enormous teeth and imperiled frame, the fish that maneuver in the deepest path of the ocean are small, translucent, stripped of scales and are highly proficient of residing where other sea animals can not.

"There is something in these species of snailfish of the Liparidaefamily that allows them to adapt to a very deep life; beyond the reach of other fish, where they are free of competitors and predators, "says Professor Thomas Linley of the University of Newcastle".

They managed to bring the fish to the surface in "very good condition" and carefully preserved it for future study.

Despite their unthreatening name and slimy physique, Linley said the snailfish are the "top predator" at that depth and the specimens caught on camera looked "very well-fed".

Amazingly, however, researchers were able to trap one of these new fish.

The fish are said to have a gelatinous structure that is perfectly adapted to the extreme pressure at the bottom of the trench.


The expedition to the deep waters of the Atacama Trench has the participation of 40 scientists of 17 nationalities and is financed with the help of the Ministry of Education and Research of Germany.

The Atacama name comes from the Atacama Trench, a slash in the floor of the ocean that is almost 6,000km long and more than 8,000m deep in some areas.

And the snailfish are so in-tune with their ultra-deep, ice-cold environment that they would MELT if brought closer to the surface. "Without the unheard of tension and frigid to beef up their bodies they're extremely fragile and soften all true now when dropped on the surface", Linely added.

The specimen was in very good condition and is now being described by the Newcastle group, with help of colleagues from the USA and London's Natural History Museum. Apart from snailfish, they also found various freaky creatures in the environment such as long-legged isopods or Munnopsids.

Researchers gathered more than 100 hours of footage and nearly 11,500 photos of the mysterious region.

These crustaceans have small bodies, extraordinarily long legs and swim backwards and upsides down.

"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.

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