Sunday, 17 February 2013

Discovery of a new species of fish in waters more than six miles deep

The researchers discovered the new breed of eelpout fish while combing some of the deepest waters in the world near the Kermadec Islands, north of New Zealand. They also set new depth records for rattail fish and large deep sea cusk eels, some of the most abundant of the deep-sea species. Scientists are thrilled at the discovery of the eelpout, a species not known to science before.

The waters, in which the team from the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab went, are so deep that they exceeded the height of Mount Everest. The scientists launched more than 50 fishing nets over the last 14 months to a depth 9,900 metres -  1,052 metres deeper than the height of Mount Everest, which is 8,848 metres.

Dr Alan Jamieson, the voyage leader, said: 'It's always fantastic to discover new species of fish and to find a new type of eelpout is a massive success.' 'It's even better for us because we spent most of the summer building the equipment that was used to find these fish and so it's even more gratifying to have success.

'And now, between this and the previous two expeditions over the last 14 months, we have sampled from a depth range greater than Mount Everest is high. 'We are never quite sure what we will find on these expeditions to unchartered territories. 'We had set out to find out more about the deep sea fish communities and we were delighted to find both new species and new depth records for fish. 'But what we found was better than we expected and we can't wait to get back out there in October for another expedition.'

Close-up photos show underwater creatures in a whole new light

Because the waters the fish were found in are so deep, the fish are unable to see. Dr Jamieson said: 'While the eelpouts, rattails and large deep sea cusk eels do have optical nerves, they are practically blind. 'They wouldn't be able to see a thing if they were at a higher depth as white light from the sun is too bright. 'They're surrounded by pure darkness at depths of the sea they live in, but jellyfish and shrimps give off a very, very dim blue light which eelpouts and the like can actually see.'

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