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Deep sea find sets record

Researchers based in Perth and Japan have set a record for the deepest fish ever filmed and caught.

The joint UWA and University of Japan expedition began on the research ship DSSV Pressure Drop, which explored ocean trenches around Japan.

The scientists went down into the Japan, Izu-Ogasawara and Ryukyu trenches at depths of 8000m, 9300m and 7300m respectively and deployed baited cameras.

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UWA Professor Alan Jamieson founded the university’s Deep Sea Research Centre and was chief scientist for the search.

The team set a record in the Izu-Ogasawara Trench when they filmed a solitary juvenile snailfish at 8336m below sea level.

In the Japan Trench they collected two snailfish from 8022m deep, marking the first time fish had been collected from lower than 8000m.

Prof Jamieson said the Japanese trenches were incredible places to explore.

“They are so rich in life, even all the way at the bottom,” he said.

“We have spent over 15 years researching these deep snailfish; there is so much more to them than simply the depth, but the maximum depth they can survive is truly astonishing.

“In other trenches such as the Mariana Trench, we were finding them at increasingly deeper depths just creeping over that 8000m mark in fewer and fewer numbers, but around Japan they are really quite abundant.”

Prof. Jamieson said juvenile snailfish tended to live deeper, in contrast to other deep-sea fish.

“The real take-home message for me is not necessarily that they are living at 8336m but rather we have enough information on this environment to have predicted that these trenches would be where the deepest fish would be; in fact, until this expedition no one had ever seen nor collected a single fish from this entire trench,” he said.

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