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Three Eerie Fish Species Unearthed From The Extreme Depths Of The Pacific

Sep 11, 2018 09:29 PM EDT
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Snailfish
Three new species of snailfish — dubbed pink, blue, and purple — have been discovered by a large team of international scientists. These creatures have strange bodies that are particularly suited to the extreme conditions in the deep sea.
(Photo : Newcastle University | YouTube)

Deep sea creatures don't always look like regular fishes, and three newly discovered snailfish from the depths of the Atacama Trench are no different.

A massive international team consisting of 40 scientists launched an expedition to one of the deepest places on Earth. Located in the eastern Pacific Ocean, the Atacama Trench bottoms out at an extreme, crushing depth where there are still a lot of things left to uncover.

A New Snailfish Trio

In particular, three new species of snailfish were discovered during the expedition at nearly 25,000 feet (7,500 meters) under the surface. The trio aren't even named yet and are temporarily identified with their varying colors: the pink, blue, and purple Atacama snailfish, according to a report from the Newcastle University.

Part of the Liparidae family, these snailfish look distinct from other deep sea creatures, albeit they're no less strange. The pink, blue, and purple fishes are small and translucent with no scales on their body.

In the accompanying video from Newcastle University, the creatures shown look almost ethereal as it swims easily and chows down some of their prey. As seen in the footage, their unique appearance lets them thrive in the unfathomable depths of the Atacama Trench.

"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," Dr. Thomas Linley of Newcastle University explains. "Without the extreme pressure and cold to support their bodies they are extremely fragile and melt rapidly when brought to the surface."

While they may be small, they feed easily on invertebrate prey in the extreme depths of the ocean. In fact, Linley calls them a top predator where they're found. Not only are there plenty of food to go around, but these snailfishes also live too deep to have significant predators and competitors.

The team of researchers managed to capture one of the newly discovered snailfish, which is reportedly in good condition.

Other Findings

Along with the new snailfish species, the researchers also captured rare footage of Munnopsids or long-legged isopods.

These strange buggers feature small bodies but incredibly long, spindly legs. They swim backward and upside down, using paddles on their "tummies" to propel themselves in the water. As seen in the video, Munnopsids can also walk on the ocean floor like spiders.

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