VIDEO: Transparent, ghost-like fish found deep within Marianas Trench

By Jared Richards July 7, 2016
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Watch video footage of the slightly eerie fish, which has never before been seen alive.

RESEARCHERS HAVE DISCOVERED a transparent fish swimming at a depth of around 2500 metres within the Marianas Trench.

The ghost-like fish was seen on Tuesday, 5 July during an expedition by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). While examining a ridge feature, the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer uncovered the roughly 10cm-long fish, which was known to exist but had never before been seen live.

The yet unidentified see-through fish is categorised in the cusk eel order (Ophidiiformes) and part of the Aphyoniadae family. Its gelatinous skin is matched by poorly pigmented, yellow glowing eyes.

In the video, biologist Dr. Bruce Mundy remarks that seeing a fish in the Aphyoniadae family is first on his wish list. The sighting could also signal the beginning of the end of what Bruce calls “a big debate”: whether this family is pelagic, meaning they live up in the water column, or whether they’re found in the depths, as this one was.

The fish is the exact kind of discovery for which the NOAA scours the Marianas Trench and the Northern Mariana Islands. The area and trench, which is the deepest place in the ocean, is largely mysterious and unknown territory to biologists. The current expedition is part of a larger three-year campaign to better comprehend life within the oceanic trench, and learn more about deep-sea geology and ecosystems.

Previous discoveries include a similarly ghost-like octopus, and a colourful glowing deep-sea jellyfish.

RELATED VIDEO: Surreal deep-sea jellyfish near Mariana Trench 

NOAA researchers are updating a daily log of their exploration, which has been ongoing since 20 April. You can also follow along via a live stream until the expedition ends on 10 July.