The ‘impossible’ fish that broke two deep-sea records

MDN İstanbul

A new world record for the deepest fish observed underwater has been set after a snailfish was filmed at 8,336 meters in the Izu-Ogasawara Trench by scientists from the Minderoo-University of Western Australia Deep Sea Research Centre and the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Japan.

The fish was spotted and captured during a deep-sea expedition to the Japan, Izu-Ogasawara, and Ryukyu oceanic trenches aboard the research vessel DSSV Pressure Drop in August and September 2022, as part of a 10-year mission to study deepsea fish populations.

The record was set during a dive in the 9,780 m deep Izu-Ogasawara Trench when an unknown species of snailfish of the genus Pseudiliparis was filmed by an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).

Two days later, while exploring the 8,046 m deep Japan Trench, two snailfish of the species Pseudoliparis belyaevi were collected in baited traps for study.

Snailfish have tadpole-like bodies ranging from 5 to 80 cm in length and do not have scales but rather gelatinous skin. There are currently 410 known species of snailfish from 30 different genera, although it is believed that there are many more that have yet to be identified.

Snailfishes are found all over the world, but they are cold-water specialists, so while they are found in shallow waters near the poles, they are only found in the cooler waters of the deep sea near the tropics. As a result, they have a greater depth range than any other known family of fish.

Previous sightings of deep sea snailfish have been recorded as deep as 8,178 meters in the Mariana Trench, although the species sighted then was never described. The previous record holder for the deepest living described species – Pseudoliparis swirei – was also sighted in the Mariana Trench.

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