There’s no doubt that the deep ocean holds many secrets, and in good news for the aquatically curious marine scientists are getting better and better at bringing them to the surface. A new exploration to the Atacama Trench off South America’s west coast has shed new light on one of the Earth’s deepest places, including video evidence of what appears to be three brand new species of marine life.
The expedition was carried out using a pair of lander systems fitted with HD cameras and traps. Built to withstand the pressure at depths of up to 11,000 m (36,000 ft), these landers are simply dropped off the side of a boat and left to sink to the ocean floor. To retrieve them, scientists send down an acoustic signal that releases a set of attached weights from the lander and frees it to float to the surface.
The international team of scientists working on the project did this 27 different times over the Atacama Trench, including deployments to the deepest point, called Richard’s Deep, of more than 8,000 m (26,000 ft). Throughout they gathered more than 100 hours of video and 11,000 photographs.
Captured within was imagery was rare footage of long-legged isopods – crustaceans around the size of a human hand that swim upside down and are rarely sighted in their natural habitat. Rarer still was footage of what scientists believe to be three new species of snailfish, which for now they have dubbed the pink, blue and purple Atacama Snailfish.