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Earth Science

New Fish Species Discovered 4.5 Miles Under the Ocean 96

eldavojohn writes "The University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab (a partner in the recent census of marine life) has discovered a new snailfish. That might not sound very exciting, unless you consider that its habitat is an impressive four and a half miles below the ocean's surface (video). If my calculations are correct, that's over ten and a half thousand PSI, or about seventy-three million Pascals. The videos and pictures are a couple years old, as the team has traveled around Japan, South America and New Zealand to ascertain the biodiversity of these depths. The group hopes to eventually bring specimens to the surface. It seems the deepest parts of the ocean, once thought to be devoid of life, are actually home to some organisms. As researchers build better technology for underwater exploration, tales of yore containing unimaginable monsters seem a little more realistic than before."
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New Fish Species Discovered 4.5 Miles Under the Ocean

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2010 @04:57PM (#33912782)

    Or over 3.6 trillion Cobols.

  • there is life.

    And there is a lot of water in the universe.

  • Units (Score:3, Informative)

    by pete-classic ( 75983 ) <> on Friday October 15, 2010 @05:08PM (#33912932) Homepage Journal

    That's about 715 atmospheres, in case anyone else is interested in remotely relatable units.


    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pz ( 113803 )

      Although it's an astonishing pressure, it's static, and equilibrated. That is, just as atmospheric pressure is balanced by the pressure in our bodies, and therefore individual cells and organs do not have to withstand much if any of a pressure differential, the same will be true of these creatures despite the massive depths. The creatures aren't pressure vessels: Bringing them to the surface creates a huge pressure differential, causing them to rupture.

      • The creatures aren't pressure vessels: Bringing them to the surface creates a huge pressure differential, causing them to rupture.

        No they won't! They'll grow to hundreds of times their original size, and then they'll start stomping all over Tokyo. Why, oh why did those scientists have to bring back a sample to the surface?

    • I get 721:

      (4.5 miles * 5280 feet / mile ) / 33 feet per atm + 1 atm = 721 atm.

      Eh, let's call it "more than 700" and be done with it.

      Corrections to my math or methods are posted below:

    • How dare you convert the scientific units of the article to a lowly everyday unit that results to a very low number! I'll stay with my astounding seventy-three million Pascals, thank you very much!
    • or 725 Bar in real units i think you mean there
      • Oh goody, let's have this conversation again.

        Slashdot is a US site. [] Yes, it has users from around the world, and it's great to have you all here. But bar aren't commonly used in the US and, therefore, are not relatable units in context.


  • whatever these well meaning scientists do, make sure they do not awaken the one waiting, dreaming, in his house at R'lyeh

  • by Anonymous Coward
    PSI ? Miles ? FFS when does the US rejoin the *REST* of the world ?
  • by nilbog ( 732352 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @05:26PM (#33913148) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like this snail works well ...

    (puts sunglasses on)

    under pressure.


    (Sorry I seem to have gotten lost on my way to reddit...)

  • I wonder how these snailfish would fare if exposed to the 'vacuum' of space? Would they fare better than the near instant death of terrestrial creatures? It seems to me that any creature that lives at pressures of 10K PSI must not have an internal pressure differential at all. Gills are certainly a better adaptation for both immense pressures and vacuums than lungs.

    • Considering that most organisms living in the deep sea under these intense pressures basically pop when you bring them up to 1 atmosphere, probably not.
      • by macraig ( 621737 )

        I didn't realize that was the case. There's a lot I don't know about biology.

        • There has to be a counter to that extreme pressure, after all. It's sort of like letting a rope go when another person is pulling on it - they go flying a bit further than they meant to. With that said, I don't know how it works exactly; the mechanism somehow keeps their internal pressure the same as the ridiculous pressure outside.
  • Depth is irrelevant. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @05:39PM (#33913254)

    Stop thinking about it like what would happen to you at that depth because thats not what happens.

    Everything in the body of the fish formed at that pressure, which means it doesn't really feel the pressure. Your body didn't. Its internal pressure is about 14psi, if you took it down there, it would be crushed until it reached equilibrium with the outside pressure.

    Likewise, if your brought the fish to the surface, or tried to, it would literally explode before it got to the surface as the internal pressure would be too great for its cells to contain.

    You can see the same thing if you pull a fish up from even 150 feet too quickly, its eyeballs will pop out of its skull and its internal organs sometimes pushed out of its mouth.

    We need to stop thinking that theres something special about life at these pressures or depths like its rare. We've known for 50 years there are fish down deeper than that, there were fish at the bottom of the Marianas trench, this one is slightly more than HALF that deep.

    When you are born at such pressures, anything else seems insane ... kind of like going into space without a space suit, which is pretty much what the fish would need to survive at the surface since its body is designed to operate at much higher pressures.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zero0ne ( 1309517 )

      Depth is relevant... Because there is no light that deep. What is their food source? how do they survive? How did their species evolve to make sure they were born with the same internal pressure? Like your example states, these fish didn't just swim on DOWN there one day and decide to call it home...

      • by jjohnson ( 62583 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:48PM (#33913878) Homepage

        What is their food source?

        Apparently there's a steady rain of nutrition from above, basically. Feces, skin cells, plant material, cast off crap... they live in a constant of surface particles wending their way down, much of which is edible to them.

        How did their species evolve to make sure they were born with the same internal pressure?

        You don't decide to be born at the same internal pressure as your parents, any that you, the poster, decided to be born as an oxygen breathing mammal. Fish at that pressure necessarily breed more fish at the same pressure--any who leave the safe pressure zone die rather than breed. How did you decide not to be born underwater? Your parents avoiding death by drowning in order to give birth to you.

    • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @07:31PM (#33914152) Journal

      Obligatory Mythbusters reference [].

  • Not for years (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:19PM (#33913664) Homepage

    " It seems the deepest parts of the ocean, once thought to be devoid of life, are actually home to some organisms."

    Do we really have to hear this every effing time a new deep sea species is discovered? The deeps haven't been thought of as being devoid of life for decades, if ever.

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 ( 1400425 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @06:46PM (#33913864)
    A fish that can live in solid rock. (I know, you meant 4.5 miles under the surface of the ocean.)
  • What does it taste like?

    • Given the fact that it lives life under the sea at "over 700 atmospheres," and any attempt to bring it to the surface and prepare it for consumption would cause every cell in its body to rupture, then the answer to your question is very likely, "fish goo."

    • by BKX ( 5066 )

      I'm going to go with "like piss." Deep sea and arctic sea creatures tend to have significant amounts of ammonia in their flesh, thus making them quite nasty. Thus the reason the Japanese haven't started fishing for giant squid.

  • I for one, welcome our new snailfish overlords.
  • Dopefish is not a lie!

  • Who lives in a pineapple under the sea (no not spongebob but your close)
  • by AC-x ( 735297 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @10:17PM (#33914968)

    An expedition to the Mariana Trench back in 1960 [] at a depth of 6.8 miles reported "a number of small sole and flounder swimming away". so it's been known for 50 years that vertebrates can survive at extreme depths (the deepest part of the ocean no less)

  • Does 700+ atmospheres constitute 'goldilocks' in the search for exoplanets? 'Goldilocks', apparently refers to a set of conditions capable of sustaining life. I've often been struck by the near-religous arrogance of defining the conditions capable of sustaining life. Someone who didn't drop biology in (very) high school will hopefully clarify this. From casual reading, it seems that we find life on this planet everywhere we look. From SO2 vents on the ocean floor, to the rim of volcanoes, the ocea

    • Here is the issue: We (now) know that life on Earth has expanded into pretty much any environment that doesn't denature DNA and proteins. From the bottom of the ocean, to near the stratosphere to miles deep in rock.

      We presume that when life started off on this planet 4 billion years ago, give or take a week, there was water, heat, little oxygen and a lot of minerals and dirt. Life started and then colonized, and dramatically changed, the planet. The question now is whether life can form in other envir
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I can reply as an astronomer: 'Goldilocks' more ore less only refers to conditions that allow liquid water, which on earth seems to be the the only condition that must hold. An energy source will always be found, but afaik, no water == no life.

      Astronomers are not so close minded as you seem to suppose they are, but you have to start somewhere. It is hard enough (==impossible atm) to determine whether a planet can sustain life as we know it. Once we are able to do that, we will also look for other signs of l

  • Title needs a little revision - "New Fish Species Discovered 4.5 Miles Under the Ocean"

    That's a lot of deep ocean digging to get to it.

  • That tiny snippet of a sentence sums up the problem with Imperial.

    I need exactly _one_ non-trivial calculation to fix this:

    4.5 miles = 7.24 km

    So it's 725 bar. (ten meters of water = 1 bar. plus the ~1 bar of air)

    Why is it that the US still prefers Imperial over Metric? I really don't get it.

  • or {beta}ehemoth
    sorry - I don't know how to html a greek letter. So go read the Peter Watts series, already!

  • Miles Under the Ocean

    Well, that's interesting, a fish under the ocean. Usually there's rock under the ocean.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus