Scientists discover new fish species in ocean's terrifying depths

Science

The new species of ghostly "snailfish" were captured on film feeding and interacting in their pitch black secret world - nearly 25,000 feet down in the south Pacific.

On the study of the Peruvian-Chilean trench, a team of 40 researchers from 17 countries. 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.

Scientists learned three recent species of snailfish about 5 miles below the ocean's surface.

Part of the Liparidae family, the fish are unusual in appearance compared to the typical idea of a deep-sea fish. "Beyond the reach of other fish, they are free of competitors and predators", said Dr. Thomas Linley, a research associate at Newcastle University who participated in the expedition alongside 39 other scientists.

"As the footage clearly shows, there are lots of invertebrate prey down there, and the snailfish are the top predator". Tragically, when brought to the surface, snailfish bodies "melt rapidly" from the lack of pressure, but the researchers took great pains to preserve their single specimen, which is now being studied. So, the hardest objects in the snailfishes' bodies are their teeth and the bones in their inner ears, and the creatures have only minimal structural body parts.

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The group of scientists carried out an expedition to the Atacama Trench, which is located almost 160 kilometres off the coast of Peru and Chile. They can adapt to extreme pressure easily.

The lander - essentially a high-tech trap outfitted with bait, monitors and underwater cameras - would take four hours to fall all the way to the bottom of the ocean, almost five miles deep in some areas of the trench, off the coast of Peru and Chile. But without the pressures of the deep sea to support them, their fragile, boneless bodies melt when they crest the surface of the sea. The scientist said that they could trap one of them and it is in good condition for further study. Apart from snailfish, they also found various freaky creatures in the environment such as long-legged isopods or Munnopsids.

The Newcastle University-led expedition, which involved deploying two deep sea "landers" to capture more than 100 hours of video footage, revealed a vibrant trench-dwelling ecosystem that includes shrimp-like amphipods and long-legged isopods. The creatures can swim backwards and upside down, have long legs like a spider, and paddles to help them swim.

The snailfish will be featured as part of the Challenger Conference 2018 which kicks off at Newcastle University from today and runs until Friday.

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