A team of researchers from the University of Washington has discovered a new species of fish capable of submerging more than 26,000 feet deep , about 8,000 meters. Its name is Pseudoliparis swirei or Caracol Mariana, and it has been detected along the Marianas Trench, near the island of Guam (Oceania).
But what do these fish look like?
Apparently, it does not seem possible that these unknown creatures survive the difficulties and dangers of the ocean floor. However, it is precisely thanks to their physiognomy that they can survive. Instead of large, sharp teeth and a menacing presence like a shark, Mariana snails are small, translucent and scaleless. This is, in short, what allows them to roam where practically no other species can.
The main author of the project, Mackenzie Gerringer, affirms that they have been surprised by the successful development of this species, since “the Pseudoliparis swireido not look very robust nor strong to live in such an extreme environment”.
In fact, the greatest concentration of marine life is found in the area between the surface and a depth of no more than 1,000 meters. The further we move away from this range, the more peculiar and inexplicable is the way of life in the abyssal world.
The great darkness, low temperatures or strong pressures are some of the challenges that creatures such as the Mariana snail have to adapt to, the animals that live here adapt their physical conditions to these environments and develop qualities such as bioluminescence or night vision. But without a doubt, the factor with the greatest impact on them is the absence of sunlight since, without it, it is not possible for photosynthesis to take place and, therefore, forces them to look for other natural means that create energy and also food.
Their way of life is characterized by the coexistence in a group and a diet based on shrimp and tiny crustaceans that they capture by sucking through their mouths to swallow their prey.
These snails can be found at different sea depths around the world. Nonetheless, it could be said that they have become the kings of the Mariana Trench, the deepest stretch of ocean in the world found in the western Pacific Ocean.
Since 2014, researchers have collected up to 37 snail specimens at depths ranging from 6,900 meters (about 22,600 feet) to 8,000 meters (about 26,200 feet). After the analysis of DNA and a three-dimensional scan of its skeletal and tissue structure , it was verified that they were facing a type of fish never seen. Therefore, Gerringer says they are very happy to put an official name to this new species.
A whole world to discover
At the moment, the Mariana snail is still a real mystery. There are still many questions to be solved, for example, how these fish can live under such intense pressure, comparable to that which an elephant would exert on a human finger .
These fish have adapted to such extreme depths that they are free of predators. In addition, the funnel shape of the Marinas pit allows large quantities of food to be collected.
Since the first explorations, other research teams follow in the footsteps of Mackenzie Gerringer’s team. In fact, in Japan, images of fish swimming at depths of 8,178 meters(about 26,830 feet), the deepest sighting so far, have been recorded .
Gerringer emphasizes that “there are many surprises waiting for you. It is amazing to see what lives there. We think it is a hostile environment because it is extreme for us, but there is a whole group of organisms that are very happy down there.”