A team of Australian scientists made discovered new deep-sea fish when they ventured into unknown territory underwater. The researchers used cameras to explore the frigid sea bottom under enormous pressure, down to 3.6 miles deep. Of course, this is deeper than scuba divers and submarines can go.
Dianne Bray, Senior Collections Manager at the Museums Victoria Research Institute in Australia, elaborated on the discoveries. “There are wonderful things that live in the Twilight Zone with bioluminescence, lights, and big fangs,” Bray told Fox Weather. “The deep sea is our least known environment, and we captured just a tiny amount.”
The “Twilight Zone” is home to massive, ancient volcanoes that are now seamounts. These mountains are 40 to 120 million years old and can be 42 miles across. The only evidence of them is the tiny, tippy-tops that we know as Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. This area was designated as Australia’s newest Marine Park in March. People have wondered for decades what sort of deep-sea fish the alien terrain could be home to. The New York Post shared images of the rare creatures on their Twitter.
The deep-sea fish include a never before seen blind eel
Tim O’Hara is the chief scientist of the mission and took time to detail his 35-day mission into the abyss. “The seamounts get studded with these enormous monsters, and yet we know nothing about them,” explained O’Hara. “No scientific expedition has been there to look at the biology or the fauna down there. So we’ll be the first.”
The researchers were thrilled to see the blind eel for the first time. The bizarre deep-sea fish was covered in skin that was loose, transparent, and gelatinous. Bray noted a very unique feature of the animal. “They’re also livebearers. So the females give birth to live young,” Bray noted. “So they really don’t have any dispersal mechanisms. They don’t have larvae that get carried around in the current.” O’Hara and his companions gathered hundreds of unique specimens from their expedition, one of which was the blind eel.
Of course, the research mission brought back an array of deep-sea fish and creatures. “We expect maybe a third of all the animals that will bring back will be new species,” explained O’Hara. The tripod fish is Bray’s favorite discovery. “Those amazing deep-sea fishes that stand high up off the seafloor on their long, thin fin rays and face into the current to feed,” beamed Bray.
“They’re not only just hermaphrodites, they’re simultaneous hermaphrodites. So they have a functional ovotestis, which is a pretty interesting reproductive strategy and a great one for life in the deep sea where animals are rare,” added an ecstatic Bray. “So maybe they only have to meet one other fish to mate.” By mapping the ocean floor with high-tech multibeam sonar and cameras, the team was able to collect samples of sea life that are now being studied.