Fish were not expected to be able to survive so deep, but scientists have captured footage of a new species of a scavenger-hunting snailfish swimming at an astounding 7,000 meters below the surface. The video, taken from an 8,000 meter-deep sea trench in the Southeast Pacific Ocean, showed a level of biodiversity that surprised seasoned marine biologist, who have previously surveyed five other deep sea trenches.
“Our findings […] will prompt a rethink into marine populations at extreme depths,” said Alan Jamieson from the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab, who led the expedition.
The expedition also captured footage of cusk-eels feeding for 22 hours. Researchers aren’t yet sure if the cusk-eels are new to science, but believe it’s a possibility. Jamieson told the BBC that a cusk-eel would need to be brought to the surface to determine whether or not it’s a new species.
“Our investigations also revealed a species of crustacean scavengers—known as amphipods—which we previously did not know existed at these depths in such great numbers,” Jamieson said. “These are large shrimp-like creatures of which one particular group, called Eurythenes, were generally far larger and occurred much deeper in this trench than has ever been found before.” The amphipods were photographed at 7000 and 8000 meters below the surface.
Researchers used fish bait bought on land to attract scavengers like the amphipods and cusk-eels. For their part, snailfish feed on the scavengers.
The expedition was apart of the HADEEP program—a collaborative research project between the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab and the University of Tokyo’s Ocean Research Institute, including support from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research institute (NIWA).
New snailfish species at 7,000 meters below sea level. Photo courtesy of the University of Aberdeen.
Amphipod. Photo courtesy of the University of Aberdeen.
Cusk-eels in a feeding frenzy. Photo courtesy of the University of Aberdeen.
Another amphipod. Photo courtesy of the University of Aberdeen.
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