Scale­less fish species found deep in Pa­cific

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Brett Molina

A group of sci­en­tists say they have dis­cov­ered three species of fish lurk­ing in the depths of the Pa­cific Ocean.

The fish – tem­po­rar­ily named the pink, blue and pur­ple Ata­cama snail­fish – were found in the Ata­cama Trench, an 8,000-me­ter deep trench off the west coast of South Amer­ica, ac­cord­ing to re­searchers from New­cas­tle Univer­sity.

The species of snail­fish are small, translu­cent and have no scales. Their bod­ies are built to han­dle the ex­treme pres­sure found in the deep­est parts of the ocean, sci­en­tists said.

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.

“With­out the ex­treme pres­sure and cold to sup­port their bod­ies they are ex­tremely frag­ile and melt rapidly when brought to the sur­face,” Lin­ley said in a state­ment.

Re­searchers also cap­tured footage of munnop­sids, long-legged crus­taceans that are about the size of an adult hand. The crea­tures can swim back­ward and up­side down, have long legs like a spi­der and pad­dles to help them swim. The crea­tures use a flip move to tran­si­tion be­tween swim­ming and walk­ing, sci­en­tists said.

To catch the fish and col­lect video, re­searchers used lan­ders ca­pa­ble of reach­ing depths as far as 11,000 me­ters equipped with HD cam­eras.

NEW­CAS­TLE UNIVER­SITY

Ata­cama snail­fish live in ex­treme depths.

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