A group of scientists has landed off the coast of Australia the deepest fish ever caught.
The team reeled in two unknown and possibly as yet undiscovered species of snails from a depth of 6,177 m, about 370 kilometers off the coast of Perth.
This was part of a study by the recently established Minder Deepwater Research Center and the University of Western Australia (UWA).
Following the adage, “If it doesn’t break, don’t fix it,” the team used a trap from a local bait store to win a prize – attached to a $ 100,000 deep-sea monitoring device.
The device also provides video and other data from the ocean floor, giving scientists a rare window into the unknown world.
Marine scientist and UWA researcher Todd Bond said he was surprised to find that after the first deployment on the ocean floor, they caught not one but two fish.
“It was the very first scientific deployment using this gear, and we just accidentally caught two fish, which was very, very cool,” Dr. Bond said.
Snails are found all over the world and have the greatest depth among fish. They exist from the surface to the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on earth, just over 8,000 m.
They have a different type of flesh than other fish, which makes them gelatinous and tender when brought to a higher surface temperature.
“It’s really important that when they go on deck, we work very carefully with them to keep them looking, so we put them in ethanol and then put them in the fridge to keep them cool,” Dr. Bond said. .
The purpose of the trip was the deepest place near mainland Australia – the Diamond Fault Zone.
“We headed there to document the biology, geology and chemistry of water, essentially to understand the deep sea,” Dr. Bond said.
The team uses steel weights to load their surveillance devices, which are about a meter in size, to the bottom of the ocean.
Attached is one trap for fish and another for crustaceans living on the ocean floor called amphipods.
“We are deploying this system from a ship, it sinks to the bottom of the ocean and stays there for about eight hours,” Dr. Bond said.
“When we’re ready to tell him to come home, we send an acoustic ping, which basically tells him to drop the weights, and then he pops up to the surface where we lift him.”
A large amount of data collected by the team will be studied and compared with other indications and species around the world.
“We have current, conductivity and temperature sensors, and in this part of the world, really incredible things are happening in terms of flow,” Dr. Bond said.
“So we have a pretty multidisciplinary team that looks at all aspects of this journey and the things we’ve put together.”
Dr. Bond explained that one of the things he was very interested in exploring was the relationship between amphipods in different areas of extreme depth around the world.
“Obviously, describing fish and having new species, as well as understanding the rich diversity of animals we find in the deep seas of Australia that have never been explored before, is very cool and very interesting,” he said.
“But connecting and putting it in a global context is the most exciting and will put this center and this part of the world at stake in terms of deep science.”