WA scientists help to find ‘deepest fish ever caught’

By AG Staff/AAP 4 April 2023
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An expedition to the depths of the ocean has led Western Australian scientists to help reel in a fish from a record-breaking depth of more than 8000 metres.

The two juvenile snailfish were collected from a trap 8022 metres deep in the Japan Trench, the University of Western Australia (UWA) said. These snailfish (Pseudoliparis belyaevi) are the first fish to be collected from depths greater than 8000m and have previously only ever been seen in 2008 at a depth of 7703m.

Two snailfish (Pseudoliparis belyaevi) specimens, the deepest fish ever caught, were recovered from the Japan Trench. Image credit: supplied by the University of Western Australia

The discovery was made during a two-month expedition by the research ship DSSV Pressure Drop, which began in September last year.

Scientists from the Minderoo-UWA Deep Sea Research Centre and the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology explored the Japan, Izu-Ogasawara and Ryukyu trenches in the Pacific Ocean as part of a study of deep-sea fish populations.

During the expedition an unknown snailfish species of the genus Pseudoliparis was also seen at a depth of 8336m in the Izu-Ogasawara Trench. This fish was not caught, but was filmed, believed to be the deepest fish ever recorded.

Finding the world’s deepest fish: this footage of snailfish was captured in the Izu-Ogasawara trench, using baited cameras, at a depth of 8336m.

“We have spent over 15 years researching these deep snailfish; there is so much more to them than simply the depth, but the maximum depth they can survive is truly astonishing,” said UWA Professor Alan Jamieson, founder of the Minderoo-UWA Deep Sea Research Centre and chief scientist of the expedition.

He said the abundance of life at the ocean’s depths was remarkable.

“The Japanese trenches were incredible places to explore. They are so rich in life, even all the way at the bottom.”

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