Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Three New Species, The Surprise Hidden in the Atacama Marine Pit

Three New Species, The Surprise Hidden in the Atacama Marine Pit

The latest expedition to the Atacama Trench has captured the rare footage of these elusive snailfish species.

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.

Among the new discoveries are what the team believe to be three new species of snailfish.

Among the creatures found there, the scientists discovered the three new species of fish, which are actually new species of snailfish.

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.

"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".

Amazingly, however, researchers were able to trap one of these new fish. At the same time, their small bodies have lost their scales, remaining nearly translucent.


"Their gelatinous structure means they are perfectly adapted to living at extreme pressure", Linley said. Snailfish look like fat, short eels and live all over the ocean, from shallow rock pools to the deepest trenches. Without the pressure of the water and the chill of the deep ocean, they appear to melt on reaching the surface.

Dr. Thomas Linley and Dr. Alan Jamieson from Newcastle University, the United Kingdom along with other 40 scientists of 17 different nationalities formed a strong team aiming to hold expeditions to the Atacama Trench, one of the deepest places on earth with interesting forms of life. One of the captured specimens is in good condition and, after careful preservation, is being described by the team at the University of Newcastle with the help of scientists from the United States and the Natural History Museum of London. Apart from snailfish, they also found various weird creatures in the environment such as long-legged isopods or Munnopsids.

Newcastle scientists and engineers worked for five years developing technology for the exploration of ultra-deep environments, like the Atacama Trench, which runs almost 3,700 miles along the west coast of South America.

The lander which is said to be the high tech trap that can be outfitted with the bait, underwater as well as monitors cameras that can take about four hours to fall all the way from the bottom of the ocean. In Atabasca chute scientists have received more than 100 hours of video and 11 468 photos.

The research will be discussed at the 2018 Challenger Conference which kicks off at the university this week.

As well as swimming backwards, using paddles on their bellies to propel themselves, the snailfish can shuffle along the seafloor like spiders.

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