Small snailfish is world's deepest fish

A new species called the Mariana snailfish, or Pseudoliparis swirei, has been found thriving at ocean depths of up to 8,000 meters (26,200 feet) along the Mariana Trench near Guam.
By Mark Schwartz | Nov 30, 2017
A new species called the Mariana snailfish, or Pseudoliparis swirei, has been found thriving at ocean depths of up to 8,000 meters (26,200 feet) along the Mariana Trench near Guam.

The discovery is detailed in the journal Zootaxa.

"This is the deepest fish that's been collected from the ocean floor, and we're very excited to have an official name," said lead author Mackenzie Gerringer, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories, in a statement. "They don't look very robust or strong for living in such an extreme environment, but they are extremely successful."

Mariana snailfish are small, scaleless, and translucent. They congregate in groups and dine on tiny crustaceans and shrimp.

Scientists collected 37 specimens of the new snailfish during research trips to the Mariana Trench in 2014 and 2017. Genetic analysis and 3-D scanning told them they had discovered a new species.

Not much is known about how these small fish can withstand the intense water pressure, which is similar to an elephant standing on your thumb, researchers say.

"Snailfishes have adapted to go deeper than other fish and can live in the deep trenches," says co-author Thomas Linley of Newcastle University. "There are lots of invertebrate prey and the snailfish are the top predator. They are active and look very well-fed."

Video from the 2014 research voyage will be presented on the BBC's "Blue Planet II" series, which is currently airing in the UK.

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