Deepest-Ever Fish Caught Alive on Camera

James Owen
for National Geographic News
October 7, 2008

Ghostly snailfish take the bait 4.8 miles (7.7 kilometers) beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean to become the deepest living fishes ever filmed.


The record-breaking video was shot in the Japan Trench by researchers who used dead mackerel to lure the abyssal creatures toward waiting cameras.

The fish belong to a species previously known only from five pickled specimens trawled up by Russian scientists in the 1950s, said Monty Priede, director of Oceanlab at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, which co-sponsored the expedition.

"Not only have we shown these fish alive for the first time, but we have multiplied by five the total number known to science," Priede said.

The fish are able to withstand pressures equivalent to "1,600 elephants on the roof of a Mini," according to a press release. The largest of the 17 snailfish observed measure more than 12 inches (30 centimeters) long.

Various shrimps, deep-sea prawns, and colorful crustaceans called amphipods were also recorded as part of Oceanlab's HADEEP project, a collaboration with the University of Japan.

(Related: "Extreme New Species Discovered by Sea-Life Survey" [December 11, 2006].)

"We think we've got two or three new species of amphipods from the samples we collected," Priede added.

SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES

ADVERTISEMENT

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S PHOTO OF THE DAY

NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.