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Pictures: Bizarre Eels, Fish Found off New Zealand

In a recent voyage to one of the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean, scientists have turned up something fishy: Numerous rare species of fish, as well as some new to science—including the oddly named eelpout. (Related pictures: “Odd Sea Creatures Found at Volcanoes, Canyons.”)

A joint expedition between the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), a New Zealand ocean-research company, and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, set out on the RV Kaharoa to survey the seafloor of the southwestern Pacific.

The boat traveled to the Kermadec Islands (map), located halfway between New Zealand’s North Island and the country of Tonga. The islands are located near the Kermadec Trench, which plunges over 32,963 feet (10,047 meters) below the ocean’s surface and is one of the deepest points on Earth.

Surveying life so far beneath the surface is no easy task. In this expedition, the scientists used a combination of baited fish traps and cameras that they let fall to the ocean floor. Over seven days, the scientists collected over a hundred specimens and took more than 6,500 photos.

“The amount of data recovered during the survey was considerable. A lot can be learnt and achieved by using fairly basic equipment in the deep sea,” voyage leader Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen said in a statement.

Eelpouts and Rattails

Besides the eelpout—a long, eel-like fish that frequently lives at the bottom of the ocean—the researchers also found fish that hadn’t been known to live in this area of the Pacific, as well as a fish that hadn’t been seen in the area in a century.

For instance, first caught off New Zealand in the 1870s, the cosmopolitan rattail (Coryphaenoides armatus) has been spotted at a number of deep-ocean sites around the world, but researchers hadn’t seen it near New Zealand since its initial discovery. (Test your knowledge of the ocean’s extremes.)

“A voyage such as this is testament to how feasible scientific research in the deep sea has become. It is no longer the inaccessible, out-of-reach, part of the world it once was,” Jamieson said in a statement.

“The technological challenges of the past no longer exist, and shouldn’t limit our responsibility to learn about and understand the deep sea to help ensure the long term health of the deep oceans, one of the largest environments on earth.”

In the Shadow of a Supergiant?

The scientists also surveyed a large number of amphipods, a type of crustacean that lacks a hard outer shell. In 2012 in the same area, the team discovered a “supergiant” amphipod that was ten times larger than other known species.

In an interview with the BBC, Jamieson described it as “a bit like finding a foot-long cockroach.” (See more pictures of the supergiant amphipod).

“The results from this deep exploration are giving us a much better understanding of biodiversity in the deep sea around New Zealand, and enable us to better assess potential risks to the ecosystem from future climate change and even human activities which may include seabed mining,” NIWA’s principal scientist Malcolm Clark said in a statement.

Samples of the specimens will be housed at Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum in Wellington.

Comments

  1. Derek Colebrook
    New Zealand
    May 14, 2013, 11:00 pm

    Lets hope this fish remains in the sea forever !
    Not that that would stop the Japanese whaling industry from harvesting them !!

  2. Alex
    United States
    March 26, 2013, 1:18 am

    Survival of the fittest ! All species come to an end one way or another, so another species can take its place or will exist to take the other species place in line with survival !

  3. Rik Cedestrom
    CA
    March 3, 2013, 1:13 pm

    When it comes to bringing new information to the public, it appears that you are losing ground. Many of these posts are people with little or no understanding of biology or oceanography (those fish don’t survive the ascent from depth) and yet the same ignorant souls rave on self righteously about some odd animal rights issue? I won’t even comment on the racism. I am appalled by the low level on intellectual response of (some of) your readers. I guess the new school standards are finally kicking in..

  4. JRL
    Canada
    March 3, 2013, 9:35 am

    Do fishes shed tears, hard to tell them bitches is always in the water.

  5. M. Leybra
    NY, USA
    March 1, 2013, 7:16 pm

    “Funding for this voyage is primarily from the Marine Alliance for Science & Technology for Scotland (MASTS)… & a project funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).” OBVIOUSLY NEXT COMES INVASION & EXPLOITATION.

  6. George Clarke
    UK
    March 1, 2013, 6:58 am

    One of the odd long fish resembles the oarfish found in the North Atlantic usually in association with herring

  7. KAt
    russia
    March 1, 2013, 5:48 am

    this discousting iddiots – catch all famely ! national geografik – sacs ! its stupid and dicousting orgonisation of non proffwesional people !

  8. Pedro
    Queensland, Australia
    February 28, 2013, 7:07 pm

    Reading these comments is a sad reminder of how far we still have to go to become a truly civilised species:

    “commy pinko liberal”
    (you made a good point about leather shoes etc, why spoil it with intolerance?)

    The “japs” or “chinese” will eat it: Let’s not be too culturally self-righteous: most of us behave in accordance with the culture we were brought up in, and that is true regardless of whether we are western, anglo-saxon, American, Japanese or Chinese.

    And publicly nit-picking on someone’s spelling??

    Now you can all rail at me for being self-righteous, two “goody goody” and grump at me for using the wrong to, two too.

    • David Braun
      March 1, 2013, 8:30 am

      A very good comment. Thanks!

  9. l. clarke
    Canada
    February 28, 2013, 4:46 pm

    I’m with the doomsayers. Photograph them ok but don’t kill the poor things. There’s enough of that going on with “domesticated” animals. Livestock being ill-treated and eaten and shelters euthanizing thousands, let’s get behind efforts to see anmals treated with respect.

  10. Richard
    3rd Rock from the Sun, maybe we shouldn't explore space either.
    February 28, 2013, 4:11 pm

    Ah, the uninformed will always be uninformed. Soon, they will call everything in the Ocean a protected species. Geez.

  11. 2 Dog Don
    Virginia Beach
    February 28, 2013, 12:16 pm

    I can appreciate some of the commy pinko liberal comments about the way the fish were treated but I wonder do you wear leather shoes? Eat animal flesh or even plants that are known to communicate? Just asking?

  12. Larry
    CA
    February 28, 2013, 11:25 am

    The way to protect an animal from being eaten by people is to name them after vermin, pets or creepy things. That works on many would be consumers.

  13. Fernanda
    Brazil
    February 19, 2013, 10:59 am

    @danny schalkwijk

    yeah, because they are thrilled to have killed the fishes, not because they just discovered a new species… their eyes are shinning because of a dead creature, not because they ae looking at something they´ve never seen and how awsome it is…

    save the silly comments… for yourself

  14. danny schalkwijk
    curacao
    February 17, 2013, 12:27 pm

    scientists or not!!! the pic with them smiling with dead fish is out of place !!!!!!!!

  15. Gary Wilson
    February 17, 2013, 10:14 am

    Victoria it’s lives not life’s.

  16. Hanna
    San Diego
    February 17, 2013, 8:21 am

    Wow! Really interesting stuff, those eels and fish like creatures like so prehistoric and ancient. It’s interesting to see what kinds of beings reside underneath the waters surface!

  17. papajes
    Phillipines
    February 17, 2013, 6:34 am

    it’s weird and actually existing only in films [in the past] . :) now i want t o explore deep than the space.

  18. KoKo
    Mozambique
    February 17, 2013, 2:59 am

    Give it to the Jap`s, they will eat it.

  19. Cody
    Canada
    February 17, 2013, 2:19 am

    And…there goes the last family of their species that were all traveling together.

  20. Mad Max
    February 17, 2013, 2:17 am

    I’m with Victoria, to the extent as to WHY these scientists feel they had to haul these fish up to the surface in the first place? Obviously it would be very painful for the fish, and as “Mikey” pointed out, would have resulted in their death. A totally callous act. Pictures of them in their own environment should have be sufficient. But that’s humans for you – always presuming that whatever THEY do is OK … to hell with another sentient life form! Makes me sad to be one, sometimes …

  21. mario
    california
    February 17, 2013, 1:56 am

    wonder if they are good eating

  22. SWEE
    February 17, 2013, 1:54 am

    Lord, the animal kingdom is such an amazing thing. right now, humans probably only know around 25% of the whole kingdom. Amazing, amazing!

  23. Sharon
    Duncan BC Canada
    February 17, 2013, 1:39 am

    @ Victoria, New York. The fish are dead, Victoria. They would not survive coming to the surface.

  24. maria angela
    Rio de Janeiro
    February 17, 2013, 1:30 am

    Adorei a pesquisa ,estou curiosa e impressionada* obrigada*.

  25. mightymeaty
    February 17, 2013, 1:18 am

    I wonder what it taste like :)

  26. jason
    belize
    February 17, 2013, 1:01 am

    Wow that’s intresting what more can we expect from the sea hmmmm

  27. Mark
    Sydney
    February 17, 2013, 12:54 am

    Can’t believe the comments about insensitive scientists. How else are they meant to study them….by riding a magical seahorse to the bottom of the ocean.

    It’s not like they filled their boat with them. Perhaps the detractors would prefer we stay in eternal ignorance of the species on the earth.

  28. Manuel
    Brownsville, TX.
    February 16, 2013, 1:27 pm

    I’d bet the Chinese will eat it!

  29. noah
    February 12, 2013, 2:35 pm

    ewwwww

  30. squirrel looks like preston
    on your mom
    February 12, 2013, 2:04 pm

    looks like my pet squirrel

  31. Bobby Jo Hickey
    February 12, 2013, 6:54 am

    Very interesting!

  32. jamie L.
    philippines
    February 12, 2013, 4:06 am

    wow. a whole new discovery.. cool. but totally WEIRD!

  33. sabrina
    united states
    February 12, 2013, 1:39 am

    that fish looks so weird.
    but it’s awesome.
    it’s so special

  34. your mom
    wisconson
    February 11, 2013, 12:50 pm

    wonder what they taste like :)

  35. Mikey Mike and the Funky Bunch
    Georgia
    February 11, 2013, 12:16 pm

    Victoria,
    The fish do not need protection because they are dead. You can’t haul them up from the depths and expect them to survive. The pressure difference they’ve adapted to is too much different from the surface. That’s why in all the other slides they are obviously dead. They are being harvested for science by scientists, so save the righteous indignation.

  36. jeanslinp
    China
    February 11, 2013, 10:37 am

    This thing is so interesting~

  37. Rommy
    New Zealand
    February 10, 2013, 8:25 pm

    Very cool, hope no one tries to catch them.

  38. Amira Ferjani
    United States
    February 10, 2013, 2:17 pm

    Cool

  39. Victoria
    New York
    February 10, 2013, 8:48 am

    I am amazed that these “scientist” were so insensitive to the health of the creatures. Notice they have sun glasses on to protect them form the bright sun, yet these fish (that have never seen the light of day in their life’s) are being held up as trophies..cooking in the sun. Very sad to see.

  40. John Ryan
    phillipines
    February 10, 2013, 4:09 am

    There is so many hidden species out there waiting to be discover…

  41. STaiX
    Algeria
    February 9, 2013, 4:06 am

    Bizarre,hope I won’t fish it in our seas