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"Deepest fish in the world" Caught on camera — 27,000 feet below the surface

A massive research initiative to explore deep-sea creatures sparked new discoveries in the North Pacific last year, when scientists filmed and captured three fish at depths never before recorded.

As part of a 10-year collaborative study between the University of Western Australia and the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, scientists used baited robotic cameras to photograph a juvenile conch fish about 8,300 meters below the surface, the Australian university announced Monday. The school hailed the record-breaking discovery as the “world’s deepest fish.”

The milestone was announced after a two-month expedition focused specifically on deep-sea fish populations in three trenches located near Japan. In Japan, the Izu-Ogasawara and Ryukyu trenches extend 8,000m, 9,300m and 7,300m respectively below the surface of the North Pacific Ocean.


Photo of live snailfish from 7500-8200 m in the Izu-Ogasawara Trench.

University of Western Australia

Snail fish are similar to tadpoles and can grow to about 12 inches long. They are found in oceans around the world, with some species living in relatively shallow waters. The snail fish discovered 8,300 meters down – that’s more than 27,000 feet or five miles deep – belongs to an unknown species, scientists said.

They found and filmed the fish last September in the Izu-Ogasawara Trench in southern Japan, setting a world record for the deepest fish recorded on video. The footage was released on Sunday, and shows the snailfish, which scientists describe as a very small juvenile, swimming by itself just above the ocean floor.

According to the University of Western Australia, this particular type of snailfish belongs to the Pseudoliparis family and was previously spotted about 7,700 meters below the ocean’s surface in 2008.

Video footage released over the weekend shows two snailfish being found and caught during the same research expedition. At 8,022 meters down, in another deep trench in Japan, the pair of netted fish marked the deepest catch on record by scientists.

The University of Western Australia is searching for the world’s deepest fish on YouTube

“The Japanese trenches were an incredible place to explore; they were so rich with life, even from the bottom,” said Alan Jamieson, a professor at the University of Western Australia who led the expedition, in a statement.

“We have spent more than 15 years researching these deep-sea snails,” added Jamieson. “There’s more to them than just depth, but the maximum depth at which they can survive is truly amazing.”

The professor said that scientists have found snailfish “in fewer and fewer numbers just above the 8,000m mark at increasingly deep depths”, such as the Mariana Trench – the world’s deepest – in the western Pacific near Guam. But Jamieson notes that the population explored around Japan was particularly “abundant”.

“The real message for me is not that they’re living at 8,336 meters, but that we have enough information about this environment to predict where these trenches are where the deepest fish will be,” Jamieson said. Neither saw nor collected a single fish.”

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