Aquatic Aliens? Deep Sea Australian Voyage Nets Bizarre New Fish Species
The aphorism "there's plenty of fish in the sea" is terrible consolation after a breakup, but scientifically a very true statement – so much so, in fact, that most species are still undiscovered. During a voyage off the coast of Australia, scientists aboard the marine research vessel RV Investigator brought back a staggering 42,747 fish and invertebrates for scientific study. Some specimens came from as deep as 4,800 meters – almost three miles beneath the surface – and over 100 of them are being examined by The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) to determine whether they are brand new discoveries.
Included in the haul were a few rare re-discoveries, like a fish with no face and the now-infamous blobfish (no typo), the latter of which still reigns as world's ugliest animal. "There are a couple of basketwork eels that could be new, there is also an unknown eelpout and also a duckbilled eel that appears to be an undescribed species," said CSIRO ichthyologist, John Pogonoski, who described the research voyage as "frontier science."
"The discoveries provide us with a glimpse into how our marine fauna fits into the interconnected abyssal environment worldwide and for the scientists, adds another piece to the puzzle of what affects evolution in the deep sea," said Museums Victoria ichthyologist Martin Gomon. "Very little is known about many of the areas in those [abyssal] waters... What we need to know is whether the animals that are living at these depths around Australia are the same or unique, quite different from those found elsewhere around the world. I have little doubt that there are many species out there we haven't seen yet."
According to Popular Science, scientists have been studying deep-sea animals since the mid-1800s. A big part of why we still don't know much about them is that they typically don't survive a trip to the surface. There have been attempts to build equipment to keep the fish alive, but so far it is not a viable solution for every voyage.
Maybe humanity just isn't ready to stare into the angry black eyes of a living blobfish, however...