Mariana Snailfish: Here’s A Look At The Deepest-Dwelling Fish In The Ocean

By Sami Ghanmi | Nov 29, 2017 09:32 PM EST

The Mariana snailfish broke the record of the deepest-dwelling fish in the deep sea when it was first discovered about three years ago in the Pacific Ocean.

Researchers have now named the fish, Pseudoliparis swirei, and have described it for the first time in a recently published paper.

The Mariana Snailfish: Pseudoliparis Swirei

When most people think of deep sea creatures, the first things that may come to mind are creatures with enormous teeth and bizarre-looking jaws and skulls. The Mariana snailfish, however, doesn't look like that at all.

Instead, it has a small, translucent body with no scales and can roam and thrive up to about 8,000 meters deep below the surface of the ocean. It is known to be the deepest fish ever caught from the deep sea.

"This is the deepest fish that's been collected from the ocean floor, and we're very excited to have an official name," said Mackenzie Gerringer, the lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories.

"They don't look very robust or strong for living in such an extreme environment, but they are extremely successful."

When Was It Discovered?

Researchers first discovered the snailfish back in 2014 during an expedition into the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench, which is known to be the deepest place on Earth.

Using unmanned vehicles, the researchers managed to spot the fish at depths of 8,145 meters underneath the surface.

Since the discovery, the Mariana snailfish has held the record of the deepest-living fish in the ocean and has surpassed the depth reached by another snailfish species called the Pseudoliparis amblystomopsis.

How Deep Can It Go?

During another expedition that took place earlier this year, Japanese researchers found and captured a footage of the snailfish at depths of 8,178 meters, which is the deepest sighting to date.

According to Gerringer, when one goes further down to the bottom of the ocean, one will find fish taking a really different form. They are scaleless, they have no big teeth, and they don't emit light.

Also, scientists believe that they are unlikely to find any more fish living deeper than the depths where the Mariana snailfish was discovered. That's because the intense pressure at those depths can obstruct nerves and muscles and even warp and alter proteins linked to the operations of enzymes necessary for life.

Named After Herbert Swire

Researchers named P. swirei after Herbert Swire, a navigational sub-lieutenant and an officer of the H.M.S Challenger expedition.

The HMS Challenger was a steam-assisted Royal navy corvette that was used in the 1870s for scientific ocean exploration. The Challenger expedition was responsible for discovering thousands of new species in the ocean and also led to the discovery of the Mariana Trench.

The paper was published in the journal Zootaxa.

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