Snailfish: Mariana Trench Harbors New Species

Scientists have formally identified a new species of snailfish, the deepest ever caught in the Mariana Trench. A related species has been filmed but never collected.

It’s cute, almost pink, and about twice as long as a cigar, with flesh so translucent you can see its liver from the outside. And it is the deepest fish ever caught.

Scientists today formally documented the world’s newest, deepest fish, Pseudoliparis swirei, an odd little snailfish caught at 7,966 meters in the Mariana Trench—nearly twice as far below the sea’s surface as Wyoming’s Grand Teton towers above it. The new species from the dark, frigid ocean region known as the hadal zone was first caught in 2014 and again early in 2017 but is only now being described.

Yet even though the deepest part of the ocean extends almost another 2 miles down to just shy of 11,000 meters, scientists suspect they are unlikely to ever find a fish that lives much deeper.

That’s because the pressure down deep is so enormous that fish may be chemically unable to withstand its destabilizing effects on proteins below about 8,200 meters.

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