Using unmanned ocean landers at depths ranging from 5,000m to 10,600m, researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland have successfully filmed and discovered a gelatinous-looking mystery fish that is the deepest-swimming marine life ever recorded.
The creature was caught at a depth of 8,145m flaring its fins and wending its way past a swarm of greedy amphipods munching on bait fixed at the end of the marine lander.
The discovery of this “new species” of fish was the result of a 30-day international expedition using the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel, Falkor. This voyage was specifically designed to explore the depths of the Mariana Trench, which is considered to be the “deepest part of the world’s oceans.” Located in the western Pacific Ocean, the Mariana Trench reaches a maximum-known depth of 10.994 km (10,994 ± 40 m).
This voyage was part of a larger mission to learn more about the ecology of the Mariana Trench by exploring the undersea canyon’s steep walls. According to the BBC News, the research team deployed several landers and used the UK’s deepest driving vehicle to capture more than “100 hours of deep-sea footage.”
Scientists also collected and brought to the surface rocks covered in volcanic glass, whose characteristics suggest the existence of volcanic activity at depths previously unknown.
Another fascinating discovery is a new species of “supergiant” amphipods that can reach up to 30cm in length (normal sized amphipods are usually 2-3cm long). “We’ve got more than 20 hours of footage of them, and we’re learning the way they swim, the way they feed and the way they fend off predators, says Dr Alan Jamieson from Oceanlab at the University of Aberdeen,”They clamp down on the bait, and bore their head into it and put their spiky tail in the air like a thorn bush. Anything that goes for it gets stabbed in the nose.”
With most of the ocean floor largely unexplored, more discoveries of this nature is expected to increase and yield a slew of unexpected surprises.