(FISH/OCEANS) Do fish need eyes, or even a face? The unexplored waters off of Australia, which are 2.5 miles deep, are brimming with new species.
Tom O’Hara and a team of researchers discovered creatures with new adaptations formed while living in these deep, dark waters. Navigating this abyss wasn’t easy, but the research is important to help protect this unfamiliar environment from climate change.
Read on to learn about other bizarre creatures that were uncovered during their expedition. — Global Animal
Faceless fish and other weird and wonderful creatures, many of them new species, have been hauled up from the deep waters off Australia during a scientific voyage that has been studying parts of the ocean never explored before.
During a month-long journey off the country’s eastern seaboard, the research vessel Investigator has surveyed life lurking in a dark and cold abyss that plunges 2.5 miles (four kilometers) below the surface, using nets, sonar, and deep-sea cameras.
Tim O’Hara from Museums Victoria, who serves as chief scientist on board, told AFP on Wednesday that the search area was “the most unexplored environment on earth.”
Bright red spiky rock crabs, puffed-up coffinfish, blind sea spiders, and deep sea eels have been collected since the scientists began their voyage — from Launceston in Tasmania north towards the Coral Sea — on May 15.
They also came across an unusual faceless fish, which has only been recorded once before by the pioneering scientific crew of HMS Challenger off Papua New Guinea in 1873.
“It hasn’t got any eyes or a visible nose and its mouth is underneath,” O’Hara said from the ship.
At such huge depths, it is so dark that creatures often have no eyes or produce their own light through bioluminescence, he added.
Carnivorous sponges that wield lethal spicules made of silicon — effectively glass — were another striking find. They get small crustaceans hooked on their Velcro-like spines, to be slowly digested in-situ. This technique differs from most deep-sea sponges, which feed on bacteria and other single-celled organisms filtered from passing currents.
“We’ve got 27 scientists on board who are leaders in their fields, and they tell me that around one-third of what we’ve found are new species,” said O’Hara, with several thousand specimens so far retrieved and two weeks of the trip still to go.