International Researchers Set New Record for Deepest Fish Captured on Camera
A team of international researchers have set a new record for capturing the deepest fish ever caught on camera. Filmed swimming along the bottom of a Japanese ocean trench at a depth of 8336 metres, the juvenile snailfish belonged to the Pseudoliparis family and was an unknown species. The researchers, including those from the Minderoo-University of Western Australia Deep Sea Research Centre and the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, had set out to explore the Japan, Izu-Ogasawara and Ryukyu trenches – which are 8,000, 9,300 and 7,300 metres deep respectively – as part of a decade-long study into the deepest fish populations in the world. The researchers also captured two Pseudoliparis belyaevi snailfish at a depth of 8022 metres, setting a new record for the deepest fish ever caught.
Snailfish are a diverse group of fish with long, gelatinous bodies that allow them to survive in the ocean’s depths. They are found in oceans across the world, with more than 300 different species currently known, many of which live in shallow waters. The snailfish discovered 8,300 meters down belongs to an unknown species, scientists said. Snailfish are able to adapt to life just about anywhere under water. They have a gelatinous body that is able to be squashed by the immense pressures of the deep sea, and they don’t have a swim bladder, a gas-filled organ most other fish have that controls buoyancy. Their diet consists primarily of minuscule crustaceans, a significant portion of which inhabit the depths of trenches.
At a depth of over eight kilometers, two fish were caught by the researchers, marking the first time any fish have been captured beyond that depth. They were able to film the snailfish of the genus Pseudoliparis, which was swimming at about 8,336 meters, or about 27,349 feet. The snailfish could be at, or very close to, the maximum depth any fish can survive. The snailfish residing in trenches exist at a depth of 1000 meters, surpassing all other fish, and may possibly hold the record for being the species inhabiting the most extreme depth on Earth.
“This is the deepest record by far for the fish,” said Professor Alan Jamieson, founder of the Minderoo-University of Western Australia Deep Sea Research Centre and chief scientist of the expedition. “If this record is broken, it would only be by minute increments, potentially by just a few metres.”
The team had deployed baited cameras in the deepest parts of the trenches located off the coasts of Japan and the north Pacific Ocean. During the two-month survey last year, three “landers” – automatic sea robots fitted with high-resolution cameras – were dropped into the Japan, Izu-Ogasawara and Ryukyu trenches at varying depths. The researchers had predicted the deepest fish would be a snailfish and had enough information on the environment to have predicted the trenches would be where the deepest fish would be. The discovery of a fish deeper than those found in the Mariana Trench is probably due to the Izu-Ogasawara's slightly warmer waters, Jamieson speculated. “What is significant is that it shows how far a particular type of fish will descend in the ocean,” he said. “Things are changing really fast.
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