Australian scientists have discovered new species of fish in one of the deepest points of the Pacific Ocean.
Researchers from Newcastle University on Monday released rare footage of what is believed to be three new species of the “elusive” snailfish, 7500 metres beneath the surface.
The fish were found in their latest trip to the Atacama Trench off the coast of Peru and Chile.
However, the newly discovered species does not fit the stereotypical image of what deep-sea fish should look like, with no giant teeth or “menacing frame” to speak of.
The three species have been temporarily named the pink, blue and purple Atacama snailfish.
“With delicate fins and transparent, gelatinous bodies, they are some of this environment’s most enigmatic inhabitants, fish that – at first glance – look like they should be incapable of surviving under such enormous pressures,” researchers Thomas Linley and Alan Jamieson wrote.
“And yet, it appears they are thriving in this strange world.”
In a statement, Dr Linley said: “there is something about the snailfish (fish of the family Liparidae) that allows them to adapt to living very deep. Beyond the reach of other fish they are free of competitors and predators.”
“As the footage clearly shows, there are lots of invertebrate prey down there and the snailfish are the top predator, they seem to be quite active and look very well-fed.
“Their gelatinous structure means they are perfectly adapted to living at extreme pressure and in fact the hardest structures in their bodies are the bones in their inner ear which give them balance and their teeth.
“Without the extreme pressure and cold to support their bodies they are extremely fragile and melt rapidly when brought to the surface.”
Researchers captured on camera the tree new species after deploying a high-tech trap outfitted with bait, monitors and underwater cameras.
The lander took four hours to fall all the way to the bottom of the Atacama Trench – a trench almost 6000 km long and more than 8000 m deep.
Scientists said they managed to catch one of the new species of snailfish, and that it was in a very good condition and is currently being studied by a team from the Natural History Museum in London.