World’s deepest fish documented in Mariana Trench

Mariana Trench
Snailfish is shown feeding along with amphipods; video screen grab

Scientists using a remotely operated vehicle in the depths of the Mariana Trench have documented a world record for deepest-known fish.

The fish, believed to be a type of snailfish (Liparidae), was videotaped at 8,145 meters, or 26,722 feet. It can be seen in the accompanying footage feeding among various scavenging amphipods outside of the Hadal-Lander ROV, owned by Scotland's University of Aberdeen.

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The team of scientists, during a collaborative expedition led by the University of Hawaii, actually set a world record twice during the same expedition to Earth's deepest location, having first spotted snailfish at between 6,000 and 8,000 meters.

Previously, the deepest fish ever seen alive was 500 meters.

The recent study involved 92 deployments of the Hadal-Lander ROV, to as deep as 10,600 meters.

The snailfish is a different type than others documented at shallower depths in the Mariana Trench, which is located in the western Pacific and reaches a maximum known depth of nearly 11,000 meters, or about seven miles beneath the surface.

"The really deep fish did not look like anything we had seen before, nor does it look like anything we know of," Alan Jamieson, an Aberdeen biologist, said in a press release. "It is unbelievably fragile, with large wing-like fins and a head resembling a cartoon dog."

Scientists also documented a colossal amphipod they refer to as a "supergiant," a crustacean that was first discovered in 2012 off New Zealand.

The footage shows several supergiants swimming and looking almost like fish outside of the ROV.

Said Jamieson: "Knowing these creatures exist is one thing, but to watch them alive in their natural habitat and interacting with other species is truly amazing. We have learned a great deal."

The footage was captured during a 30-day expedition designed "to characterize the environments, animals, ecological, and geological processes of the deepest area of the world's ocean."

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