How long is 5 miles? It’s the distance from San Jose, California to Santa Clara.
That’s how deep the ghostly snailfish lives underwater in the western part of the Pacific Ocean, where the deepest part of the earth’s crust is found: popularly known as the Mariana’s Trench. The discovery happened when a phantom like fish was ambled by a Scottish-built underwater robotic vehicle. To add to that, no fish was ever found in this part of the trench.
You will find the characteristics of the snailfish to be like something out of a fantasy world. Described by Alan Jamieson, from Oceanlab at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland: it has “a head resembling a cartoon dog,” a tail like an eel’s, and translucent wing like fins. This was reported by USA Today. Scientists say they live in a totally dark and almost freezing environment, and can withstand water pressures equaling to 1,600 elephants standing on top of a Volkswagen, the scientists say.
The expedition to the Marianas Trench lasted for a month and researchers from University of Hawaii who led the study have discovered several other species such as a giant shrimp-like amphipod—a type of crustacean without a carapace, the likes of which were unknown to man. These are record breaking finds in this deep.
“When findings and records such as these can be broken so many times in a single trip, we really do get the feeling we are at the frontier of marine science,” said Jamieson as reported by NBC News.
Jamieson, writing for the University of Aberdeen, was asked why anyone should trouble themselves searching for knowledge about things not known to many people existing deep down the ocean surfaces, and the advantages of doing so.
In response, he explained that deep sea exploration is essential for “responsible stewardship of the oceans.” The briny depths, he says, are “intrinsically linked to processes in the upper ocean that we humans are continually meddling with.”
“The oceans are not exempt from the effects of a warming planet or massive pollution by man-made plastics,” says Jamieson. He added that humans cannot protect what they have no knowledge about and that includes the ocean.
“In the quest to understand the entire ocean, people have to study the shallow bits, the deepest bits and everything in-between,” he wrote.