In a recent expedition to the Mariana Trench, home of the deepest place on Earth located near Guam in the Western Pacific, Biologists discovered a new species of fish. The new species was found in the deepest level of the Mariana Trench ever visited. The research biologists used five deep-sea vehicles called “Landers” each with specific destinations at varying depths of the ocean.
The Biologists, Paul Yancey and his students Anna Downing and Chloe Weinstock broke several other records during the voyage. The team performed their detailed research aboard Falkor, the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s research vessel. What they found was even among the various depths they targeted in the Mariana Trench expedition, the researchers would find communities of active animals living in all of the different depths. This means that fish communities are better able to survive at all depths of the ocean than what researchers had previously thought. And that’s not all the team accomplished, researchers were also able to collect the deepest rock samples ever collected before, also retrieved from the deepest ocean depths ever visited.
To top it all off the scientists even discovered a completely new species living in the deepest parts of the Marina Trench. The new species, a completely unknown variety of snailfish, was found at a record-setting depth of 26,872 feet below the ocean surface. The new species of snailfish is a white translucent fish with broad “wing-like fins” and a tail that resembles that of an eels. The snailfish further shocked the scientists when it was caught slowly gliding across the seafloor on the crew’s video camera recordings several times during the expedition.
Paul Yancey and his students have performed similar research on sea animals but only at moderate ocean depths. During some of the team’s prior research, they discovered organic molecules that protect the cells of deep-sea animals from the effects of high pressure. The effects of high pressure on the cells of deep-sea animals typically results in distorted proteins such as enzymes. The team wanted to see if the protective molecule would be present in deep-sea animals at even deeper depths of the ocean. These protective molecules are also being tested to treat human diseases that are a direct result of malformed proteins, like cystic fibrosis.
The new species discovered on the expedition that will also provide researchers insight into the physiological adaptations of animals high-pressure environments.
Watch the new “ghostly-looking” species as it glides in the water below:
Check the Schmidt Ocean Institute Web site at www.schmidtocean.org to learn more and keep up with the ongoing research.
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