Scientists land the deepest fish ever caught off Australia

Scientists have discovered a rare find at the deepest point off the Australian coast, which offers an extraordinary glimpse into an unknown world.

A team of scientists landed the deepest fish ever caught off the Australian coast.

The team captured two unknown and possibly still unknown species of snailfish from a depth of 6177m, some 370km off the coast of Perth.

It was part of a study by the newly formed Minderoo University of Western Australia (UWA) Deep Sea Research Center.

Following the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the team used a yabby trap from a local bait shop to get the prize, attached to a $ 100,000 deep-water monitoring device.

The device also provides footage and other data from the ocean floor, giving scientists a rare window into an unknown world.

Marine scientist and UWA postdoctoral fellow Todd Bond said he was surprised to discover after the first deployment on the ocean floor that he had caught not one, but two fish.

“This was the first real scientific deployment using that equipment and we happened to catch two fish, which was really, really cool,” said Dr Bond.

Snailfish are found all over the world and have the widest range of depths of any other fish. They exist from just below the surface to the Mariana Trench, the deepest point on earth, at just over 8000m.

They have a different type of flesh than other fish, which makes them gelatinous and delicate when brought to warmer surface temperatures.

“It’s really important that when they get on deck we work with them very carefully to maintain their physical appearance, so we put them in ethanol and then put them in the fridge to keep them cold,” said Dr. Bond.

The trip’s objective was aimed specifically at the deepest location off mainland Australia: the Diamantina Fracture Zone.

“We were heading out there to document the biology, geology and chemistry of the water out there, essentially to understand the deep sea,” said Dr Bond.

The team uses steel weights to sink their monitoring devices, which measure about three feet in diameter, to the ocean floor.

Attached is a fish trap and another for crustaceans that inhabit the ocean floor called amphipods.

“We deploy this system from a ship, it sinks to the ocean floor and stays there for about eight hours,” said Dr. Bond.

“When we’re ready to tell him to go home, we send a beep, which basically tells him to drop the weights and then floats to the surface where we pick him up.”

The large amount of data collected by the team will be scrutinized and compared with other readings and species around the world.

“We have current, conductivity and temperature sensors and there are some really amazing things happening in terms of currents in this part of the world,” said Dr Bond.

“So we have a rather multidisciplinary team looking at all aspects of this journey and the things we’ve gathered.”

Dr Bond explained that one of the things he was most excited to explore was the relationships between amphipods, in several areas of extreme depth around the world.

“Obviously describing fish and having new species and understanding the rich diversity of animals that we are finding off the sea depths of Australia, which has never been explored before, is very interesting and very interesting,” he said.

“But connectivity and setting in a global context is the most exciting thing and it will put this center and this part of the world on the map in terms of deep sea science.”

Originally published as Surprise found on the bottom of the Australian ocean