Scientists recently caught on video something that no one has ever seen before. Deep in the ocean, a camera set up by an expansive research initiative in the northern Pacific filmed fish at depths once considered impossible.
And yes, it’s as weird looking as you’d think.
CBS writes, “As part of a 10-year collaborative study between the University of Western Australia and the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, scientists used baited robotic cameras to film a young snailfish at about 8,300 meters below the surface, the Australian university announced on Monday. The school deemed the record-breaking discovery the “world’s deepest fish.”
The milestone was announced after a two-month expedition that specifically focused on the deep-sea fish populations in three trenches located near Japan. The Japan, Izu-Ogasawara and Ryukyu trenches stretch 8,000 meters, 9,300 meters and 7,300 meters respectively below the surface of the northern Pacific.
They found and filmed the fish last September in the Izu-Ogasawara trench south of Japan, setting a world record for the deepest fish ever recorded on video. The footage was released on Sunday, and shows the snailfish, which scientists described as a very small juvenile, swimming on its own just above the ocean floor.
Video footage released over the weekend also shows two snailfish found and caught during the same research expedition. At 8,022 meters down, in another deep trench off Japan, the pair of fish captured in traps marked scientists’ deepest catch on record.
The video captured the strange snail fish, which the BBC noted is an incredible species. “There are over 300 species, most of which are actually shallow-water creatures and can be found in river estuaries.
But the snailfish group have also adapted to life in the cold waters of the Arctic and Antarctic, and also under the extreme pressure conditions that exist in the world’s deepest trenches.
At 8km down, they are experiencing more than 80 megapascals, or 800 times the pressure at the ocean surface.
Their gelatinous bodies help them survive.”
The weird fish confirms theories about how deep a fish can live. “Nearly a decade ago,” The Guardian writes, “[Alan] Jamieson and his colleagues had hypothesised that it may be biologically impossible for fish to survive at depths greater than 8,200 to 8,400 metres.
“Fish all have osmolyte, a fluid in their cells that they use to counteract pressure – it’s the thing that makes that fishy smell,” Jamieson said. “One of the only things, when you look at fish from a biochemical point of view, that is linear with depth is the concentration of that fluid.
‘When you get to about 8,200 to 8,400 metres – the variation is probably temperature-dependent … it reaches what’s called isosmosis, which means you can’t increase the concentration of that fluid in the cells anymore.’
‘After all these years of hammering away at this [theory], it seems to be pretty solid. We’ve done close to 250 deployments … the window is narrowed to the point where on this Japanese expedition, we were seeing snailfish every single deployment down to this last one [of 8,336 metres].’”