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Mariana Snailfish : As Deep As A Fish Can Go

When the Mariana snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei) was discovered a couple of years ago it was a big deal, because no fish has ever been brought up from greater depth. How do fish survive, kilometres down in the ocean? Why is this one named after someone called Swire? And what does it all have to do with The Lost World, a space shuttle and a famous film director?

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Read on for photos, video and links …

Let’s get straight to the point here!

Here is the Mariana snailfish filmed in its natural habitat, kilometres down in the Mariana trench:

And here is the scientific paper that reports the discovery, investigation and naming of the species (it’s a good read, honestly!):

Gerringer et al, 2017, Pseudoliparis swirei sp. nov.: A newly-discovered hadal snailfish (Scorpaeniformes: Liparidae) from the Mariana Trench, Zootaxa 4358 (1): 161–177

Snailfish in general are, as I said in the episode, one of the most widely distributed groups of fish there is – far more significant as components of the ocean ecosystem than their relative lack of profile would suggest. For a brief introduction to their diversity and weirdness, you can do worse than check out the Wikipedia page on snailfish.

Here’s just a small sample of the variety of snailfish out there:

Festive snailfish (the pretty one!):

Gelatinous snailfish:

Tidepool snailfish:

Here’s the trailer for the 1960 movie The Lost World. A not very good movie gets a not very good trailer, to be honest. But look out for Frosty the poodle! That’s a highlight. Don’t think they name-check Professor Challenger, but he’s the guy with the bushy beard and glasses.

For the best Challenger of all, HMS Challenger, there’s a lot of information available with just a little googling, so I’ll leave that to you!

But here’s the ship itself:

And here’s the Wikipedia summary of its great expedition.

And, to end, here are a couple more scientific papers of possible interest.

For an overview of fish in the hadal zone:
Linley et al 2016, Fishes of the hadal zone including new species, in situ observations and depth records of Liparidae, Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, Volume 114, August 2016, Pages 99-110.

For the possible significance of trimethylamine oxide (TMAO) in limiting the depth fish can go to (this is a fairly technical one, if I’m honest!):
Yancey et al 2014, Marine fish may be biochemically constrained from inhabiting the deepest ocean depths, PNAS March 25, 2014 111 (12) 4461-4465.


Opening & Closing Themes: Running Waters and Acoustic Meditation by Audionautix (Jason Shaw), from audionautix.com. CC BY 3.0.

Modified versions of the following pieces:

Precisamos de um plano, A chuva do ser ou como tudo correu mal and A imagem que temos de nós e dos outros by rui, CC BY 4.0

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