Newcastle University discover new species from the extreme depths of the Pacific

Atacama snailfish cluster around a fish left as bait. Credit Newcastle University

Atacama snailfish cluster around a fish left as bait. Credit Newcastle University

One of the three newly discovered species known as the Atacama snailfish, now sorted into three categories: blue, purple, and pink.

An worldwide team consisting of 40 scientists from 17 nations embarked on an expedition to search deep in the ocean with their camera and other necessary equipment. For now, the fish are merely being referred to as the red, blue and red Atacama snailfish.

These creatures live at such "extreme depths" that they rival the world's deepest-living fish - the Mariana snailfish (pseudoliparis swirei), discovered a year ago inside the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean.

They do not conform to the stereotypical image of a deep sea creature.

Instead of giant teeth and a menacing frame, the fish are small, translucent, scale-less, and, essentially, highly adept at living where few organisms can.

Thomas Linley of Newcastle University said the fish's hardest bones are ones in their inner ear to help them maintain balance, and their teeth. Scientists believe that this allows them to live in those conditions at that depth.

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"As the footage clearly shows, there are lots of invertebrate prey down there, and the snailfish are the top predator". The scientists did manage to remotely trap one specimen using one of the team's deep-sea probes after it followed some prey into its chamber.

Other than the new snailfish species, the team also spotted and recorded rare footage of long-legged isopods which are also known as munnopsids. They can adapt to extreme pressure easily. "Without the unheard of tension and frigid to beef up their bodies they're extremely fragile and soften all true now when dropped on the surface", Linely added. The efforts were borne out of a collaboration between 40 scientists from 17 different nations trawling the waters of the Atacama Trench, a cavernous, rocky gash near the South American coast of the Pacific Ocean.

Make pictures of animals, the researchers were able with the help of two deep-water devices equipped with HD-cameras and traps.

On a recent expedition, the team deployed their baited camera system, which takes up to four hours to sink to the bottom of the ocean floor, a total of 27 times.

It is said that it is almost five miles deep in some of the areas of the Atacama Trench which is present off the coast of the Peru and Chile.

The snailfish will be featured as part of the Challenger Conference 2018 which kicks off at Newcastle University from today and runs until Friday. These crustaceans have small bodies, extraordinarily long legs and swim back and down, propelling themselves with paddles on their ventral side - their "belly" - before straightening on the seabed and unfurling their long legs to walk like a spider. "They flip from swimming backwards and upside down to walking mode, [which is] fascinating", Linley said.

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