Ghostly creature spotted 27,000ft inside the Mariana Trench is the deepest fish ever seen
Located deep within the Pacific ocean, the Mariana Trench is a scar in the Earth’s crusts. It’s the deepest and most remote place on Earth and is home to the weirdest and wonderful creatures known to man.
One such creature is the snailfish, a bizarre, ‘ghostly’ creature with a tadpole-like body, large head, small eyes and no scales. In December 2014, video footage captured evidence of two types of snailfish, one being spotted some 26,722ft (8,145 metres) in the depths of the trench. Now, a team of Japanese marine biologists has caught a fish swimming even deeper.
The latest footage was captured during a research cruise commissioned by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) on board the vessel Kairei. The team placed a compact hadal-lander fitted with 4K cameras at depths of 24,600ft (7,498 metres) and 26,830ft (8,178 metres) in the Mariana Trench. Mackerel was placed in front of the lander as bait.
At both sites, the first organisms that appeared were amphipods which fed on the mackerel for a few hours. At 24,600ft, a species of snailfish first appeared three hours and 37 minutes after the lander was placed. A giant amphipod was also seen on the video recorded at this depth.
At the deeper, 26,830ft lander, a swimming snailfish was captured around 17 hours and 37 minutes after the lander was dropped. Based on its shape, this snailfish seems to be the same species observed at higher site hours earlier.
The depth was determined by conductivity, temperature and pressure (CTD) sensor installed on a lander and this sighting, at such depths, exceeds the previous record of the deepest fish ever spotted.
The first Mariana snailfish spotted in 2014 was seen at depths of 26,500ft with the second, dubbed the Ethereal snailfish, being captured at 26,722ft (8,145 metres). It is believed the snailfish found during this latest cruise is a type of Mariana snailfish.
“Deep-sea organisms and their ecosystems have attracted great scientific interest; however, extremely high pressure in deep-sea trenches has prevented sampling as well as video recordings,” said the JAMSTEC team.
“[We will now] continue investigations of hadal organisms, attempting to collect samples for analyses to better understand the population density of the organisms and the food chain at water depths below 8,000 metres.”
This research cruise was carried out in collaboration with the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) in May 2017. Full video footage of the deepest recorded fish will be presented at the Deep Ocean exhibition at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo from August 28.