Scientists have discovered a faceless fish during a voyage to one of the deepest parts of the ocean ever visited—Australia’s eastern abyss.
The bizarre creature is only the second specimen of the species ever to be found, the first having been found by scientists on board the HMS Challenger, a research vessel that visited the waters off Papua New Guinea in 1873.
The latest mission, called Sampling the Abyss, is headed by Australia’s Museums Victoria and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). The month-long mission involved 40 scientists studying the marine life that exists at depths of up to 4,000 meters (2.5 miles).
While the voyage will officially end on June 16, researchers have revealed some preliminary findings—including a host of species believed to be new to science.
Chief scientist Tim O’Hara, from Museums Victoria, Australia, told AFP that that around a third of the specimens brought up so far are brand new. Though not new to science the faceless fish is rare. Remarking on the finding, O’Hara said it is extremely dark at such great depths, so most creatures living there do not need eyes. Describing the faceless fish, he said: “It hasn’t got any eyes or a visible nose and its mouth is underneath.”
The mission is the first time the biodiversity living at these depths have been explored. O’Hara said: “The abyss is the largest and deepest habitat on the planet, covering half the world’s oceans and one third of Australia’s territory, but it remains the most unexplored environment on Earth. He added that the scientists on board believe around a third of the creatures they have found are new species….