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Fish snapped snacking at 4,200 fathoms

'Absolutely amazing footage' from the hadal depths

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An international team of marine scientists has obtained "absolutely amazing footage" of fish feeding at a hadal 7,700 metres down in the Pacific Ocean's Japan Trench.

The snail fish caught feeding at 7,700mThe group of snail fish, (Limparidae), were caught on camera (see pic) "attacking bait at 7703 metres" by a submersible platform launched from Japanese research ship the Hakuho-Maru. The vessel is on a HADEEP expedition - a collaborative project between the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab and the University of Tokyo designed by the former's professor Monty Priede to "to investigate life in the hadal region of the ocean, which is anything below 6000 metres".

Priede enthused: 'It's incredible. These videos vastly exceed all our expectations from this research. We thought the deepest fishes would be motionless, solitary, fragile individuals eking out an existence in a food-sparse environment

"But these fish aren't loners. The images show groups that are sociable and active - possibly even families - feeding on little shrimp, yet living in one of the most extreme environments on Earth. All we've seen before of life at this depth have been shrivelled specimens in museums. Now we have an impression of how they move and what they do."

The snail fish live exclusively below 6000 metres, where they contend with "total darkness, near-freezing temperatures and immense water pressure" while feeding on "the thousands of tiny shrimp-like creatures that scavenge the carcasses of dead fish on the ocean floor". In case you're wondering what kind of pressure they're under, it's equivalent to "1,600 elephants on the roof of a Mini". ®

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