A ghost-like sea creature has been found lurking in the deepest, darkest reaches of the ocean. Scientists say they spotted the as-yet-unknown snailfish at more than 26,700 feet below the surface, the record depth for fish.
The translucent creature has an eel-like tail and stringy flippers and appears to wend through the water like a coil of smoke. University of Hawaii researchers Jeff Drazen and Patty Fryer filmed the fish during a 30-day trip to the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean, the deepest pocket of the planet. They said it beat out other known varieties of snailfish for deepest habitat, New Scientist, a British science magazine, reported.
The previous record-holder, a snailfish called Pseudoliparis amblystomopsis, can survive at depths of about 25,300 feet. According to the magazine, "handling the intense pressure of the deep sea is a challenge for most animals because it impedes muscles and nerves and bends proteins out of shape, disrupting the working of enzymes required for life."
The unusual fish was caught on cameras hauled by unmanned vehicles, which surveyed the bottom of the trench during the expedition. In September, a separate expedition found a rare purple jellyfish at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
The newest snailfish, however, might not technically be a snailfish, Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland said. "We think it is a snailfish, but it's so weird-looking; it's up in the air in terms of what it is," he told the BBC. He said scientists wouldn't be able to confirm that the fish is a new species without catching it and pulling it up to the surface.
"It is unbelievably fragile, and when it swims, it looks like it has wet tissue paper floating behind it," Jamieson told the news outlet. "And it has a weird snout -- it looks like a cartoon dog snout."