‘Deepest’ fish ever recorded found 8km underwater

The snailfish was found more than 8km underwater in a trench near Japan. <i>Photo: University of Western Australia</i>

The snailfish was found more than 8km underwater in a trench near Japan. Photo: University of Western Australia

Scientists from Australia and Japan have gone further into the ocean than ever before to capture the world’s deepest fish on camera.

In September, scientists from the University of Western Australia and the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology headed out to sea to embark on a two-month expedition to the deep sea trenches in the north Pacific Ocean. Their findings were released this week.

The team was exploring the Japan, Izu-Ogasawara and Ryukyu trenches which run thousands of metres deep, as part of a decade-long study into the deepest fish populations.

South of Japan, in the Izu-Ogasawara Trench, which is some 9000 metres deep, the team filmed the deepest record of a fish.

The unknown species of snailfish was spotted at a depth of 8336 metres.

“The Japanese trenches were incredible places to explore. They are so rich in life, even all the way at the bottom,” said UWA Professor Alan Jamieson, founder of the Minderoo-UWA Deep Sea Research Centre and chief scientist of the expedition.

“We have spent over 15 years researching these deep snailfish. There is so much more to them than simply the depth, but the maximum depth they can survive is truly astonishing.

“In other trenches such as the Mariana Trench, we were finding them at increasingly deeper depths just creeping over that 8000m mark in fewer and fewer numbers, but around Japan they are really quite abundant.”

A few days later, the team collected two fish in traps at about 8000 metres deep in the Japan Trench.

The UWA says it is believed these snailfish caught in the Japan Trench are the first fish to be collected from depths greater than 8000m.

The fish spotted at the Izu-Ogasawara Trench was by itself and an “extremely small juvenile”, UWA said, whereas usually “large and somewhat lively populations” generally thrive in the ocean.

Snailfish tend to be the opposite of other deep-sea fish where the juveniles live at the deeper end of their depth range,” the university said.

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