Six-inch long pink fish can carry the weight of the deepest ocean

A star of BBC1's flagship nature programme Blue Planet II has been officially named the deepest fish in the ocean.

Six-inch long pink fish can carry the weight of the deepest ocean

A star of BBC1's flagship nature programme Blue Planet II has been officially named the deepest fish in the ocean.

The six-inch long pink and delicate Mariana snailfish, Pseudoliparis swirei, looks as if it would break at the slightest touch.

Yet the new species was discovered living at depths of 8,000 metres (26,200ft), where the pressure is equivalent to an elephant standing on your thumb.

The snailfish, which featured in episode two of Blue Planet II, was discovered in the Mariana Trench, the deepest spot on Earth, near Guam.

Dr Mackenzie Gerringer, from the University of Washington, US, who led the scientific team, said: "This is the deepest fish that's been collected from the ocean floor, and we're very excited to have an official name.

"They don't look very robust or strong for living in such an extreme environment, but they are extremely successful."

Snailfish are found at many different depths in waters around the world.

In deep oceans, they cluster in groups feeding on tiny crustaceans by gulping them into their sucker-like mouths.

Scientists still do not understand how the little fish manage to withstand such enormous water pressure.

During research trips in 2014 and 2017, the researchers collected 37 specimens of the new snailfish species from depths ranging from 6,900 metres (22,600ft) to 8,000 meters (26,200ft) along the Mariana Trench.

DNA analysis and 3D scanning of skeletal and tissue structure helped confirm the find, reported in the journal Zootaxa.

The creature was found to have a number of unique physiological characteristics that marked it out from other snailfish.

British expert Dr Thomas Linley, from the University of Newcastle, who took part in the study, said: "Snail fishes have adapted to go deeper than other fish and can live in the deepest trenches. Here they are free of predators and the funnel shape of the trench means there's much more food.

"There are lots of invertebrate prey and the snailfish are the top predator which means they are quite active and look very well-fed."

The fish was named after Herbert Swire, an officer on the HMS Challenger expedition that discovered the Mariana Trench in the late 1800s.

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