A team of Japanese scientists set a record catching the deepest-dwelling fish on camera more than 26,000 feet below the surface.
The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), filmed a snailfish in late August in the Marianas Trench — the deepest zone of the Pacific Ocean — at 26,830 feet below the surface.
To catch the creature on camera, the scientists first placed a series of high-resolution cameras on an unmanned submersible they lowered to the depths. Using mackerel as bait, the team caught an underwater feeding frenzy at a depth of 7,498 meters or just under 25,000 feet, with giant amphipods — which are a type of deep-sea crustacean — as well as a group of snailfish swarming the mackerel.
A few hours after the submersible was lowered even further, down to t0 8,178 meters, the team filmed a lonely snailfish that came to poke around the remains of the mackerel.
"We’ve set a world record for filming a fish at an accurately measured depth," Oguri Kazumasa, a senior scientist at JAMSTEC told the Tokyo-based Nippon News.
"We hope we can shed more light on the deep-sea ecology and the depth limit for fish to inhabit," he added.
The snailfish species they filmed, identified as a Mariana Snailfish, was unknown to scientists before a US and UK-based team filmed one in 2014, according to National Geographic.
Snailfish occupy the deepest part of the water column, known as the hadal zone, where no light penetrates. It's always pitch black. The ghostly-white species has evolved to withstand extreme pressures at that depth, which is equivalent to the weight of over 1600 elephants, reports National Geographic.