New fish discovered by scientists from University of Aberdeen

Species of eelpout fish discovered by University of Aberdeen scientists at depths of 4250m near New Zealand
New fish: A previously unknown species of eelpout was found at depths of 4250m.University of Aberdeen

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen have uncovered a new species of fish near New Zealand.

The animal was found on a voyage to one of the deepest points on the planet.

During seven days of ocean sampling, near the Kermadec Islands, at depths of between 1-6.5km, the group took over 6500 photographs of deep sea fish and snapped around 100 fish.

The experts discovered a new species of eelpout at depths of 4250m, new depth records of 5500m for a rattail fish, another rattail fish which has not been caught in New Zealand waters for over 100 years and new depth records of 3500m for large deep sea cusk eels.

Scientist from the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab, NIWA and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa combined to explore the waters well below the depth that light penetrates.

Voyage leader Dr Alan Jamieson, from Oceanlab, said: "We are never quite sure what we will find on these expeditions to unchartered territories. We had set out to find out more about the deep sea fish communities and we were delighted to find both new species and new depth records for fish.”

“Between this and the previous expeditions we have now sampled from a depth range greater than Mount Everest is high. What makes the whole experience even more personally satisfying is that all the equipment used in these research cruises was designed and constructed at Oceanlab."

NIWA Principal Scientist Dr Malcolm Clark added: "The international collaboration enables New Zealand researchers to use scientific equipment we don't have, and to sample places that would otherwise be inaccessible, and hence unknown.

"The results from this deep exploration are giving us a much better understanding of biodiversity in the deep sea around New Zealand, and enable us to better assess potential risks to the ecosystem from future climate change and even human activities which may include seabed mining."

Mr Jamieson added: "A voyage such as this is testament to how feasible scientific research in the deep sea has become. It is no longer the inaccessible, out of reach, part of the world it once was.

"The technological challenges of the past are being overcome, and shouldn't limit our responsibility to learn about and understand the deep sea to help ensure the long term health of the deep oceans - one of the largest environments on Earth."

The new specimens will be held at the National Fish Collection at the Museum of New Zealand.

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