Trio of frag­ile Snail­fish found

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Aquatic News -

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.

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