Trio of fragile Snailfish found
An international team of researchers investigating one of the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean has discovered three new species of abyssal fish. The team used remote underwater cameras to probe the Atacama Trench, which runs for over 3,000 miles at depths of over 8,000m along the coast of Peru and Chile.
The new species are all from the Liparidae family, commonly known as Snailfish, and have made some startling adaptations to survive in this extreme, deep-water environment.
They are scaleless, translucent, and their bodies are made of a gel-like substance, with the hardest parts being their teeth and the bones in the inner ear. Otherwise they are so soft-bodied and fragile that they ‘melt’ if brought to the surface. This apparent weakness is actually a strength, as the immense crushing pressure at such depths would instantly kill more conventional fish.
Growing 20-25cm in length they have temporarily been named the Purple, Pink and Blue Atacama snailfish, pending formal classification.
They are so soft-bodied and fragile that they ‘melt’ if brought to the surface
Snailfish look as ungainly as they sound.