Scientists have discovered three new fish species in the Atacama Trench, which is considered to be one of the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean at up to 7 miles below the surface, off the coast of Chile and Peru.
The three new species were identified as variants of snailfish, a bizarre kind of fish that are among the few capable of surviving deep-sea conditions.
Scientists Explore Pacific Ocean's Atacama Trench
An international team of researchers explored the Atacama Trench, known for its freezing cold and extreme pressures at depths of nearly 25,000 feet. They deployed baited camera traps in the southeast Pacific Ocean to try to uncover some of the mysteries of the trench, as they recorded over 100 hours of footage.
The scientists surprisingly found that the Atacama Trench was teeming with life, as different kinds of creatures flocked around the bait surrounding their cameras.
Among the creatures that the scientists observed were the rarely seen long-legged isopods named Munnopsids as well as three new fish species.
Three New Kinds Of Snailfish Discovered
Scientists discovered what are currently being referred to as the pink, blue, and purple Atacama snailfish. The footage that the scientists' cameras took showed the three new fish species eating the small crustaceans that were lured by the bait.
Newcastle University deep sea biologist Thomas Linley said that most expeditions discover new deep sea species, but three new species at a time was something new for him.
Linley described the new snailfish as "surprisingly active," while living in the Atacama Trench with no scales, little beady eyes, and gelatinous bodies. In the deep sea, the snailfish are free of predators and competitors, and their bodies are well adapted to live under extreme pressure. They are also very different from what most people think deep-sea fish look like, as they do not have menacing frames or giant teeth.
The snailfish, if brought to the surface where pressure is normal and temperatures are higher, will rapidly melt. The researchers, however, were able to bring a specimen back to the surface relatively intact. The remains of the snailfish were preserved and are now being analyzed.
The findings of the 40 scientists, which come from 17 countries will be presented at the Challenger Conference at Newcastle University. By revealing more information on the creatures that live in the Atacama Trench, scientists will hopefully be able to protect them from the destruction brought about by manmade activities.