A ‘faceless’ fish has been dredged up from a seabed 4km deep by a team of researchers investigating “the most unexplored environment on Earth”.
The fish, which is just under half a metre long, has no discernible eyes or other facial features at the front of its body. It has a mouth, but this is on the underside of the fish.
It was discovered by the crew of The Investigator, a ship which is surveying life in the deep waters between Tasmania and the Coral Sea.
Tim O'Hara, of Museums Victoria, who is the vessel’s chief scientist, told the AFP news agency: “It hasn't got any eyes or a visible nose and its mouth is underneath.”
His colleague, Di Bray, also of Museums Victoria, said the find was the “highlight” of the trip so far.
“Apparently, it’s got eyes way under the surface but really you can't see any eyes,” she told Australia’s ABC News.
“We've seen some awesome stuff.
“On the video camera we saw a kind of chimaera that whizzed by – that’s very, very rare in Australian waters.
Animals in decline
Animals in decline
1/8 Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina)
Where: Orkney Islands. What: Between 2001-2006, numbers in Orkney declined by 40 per cent. Why: epidemics of the phocine distemper virus are thought to have caused major declines, but the killing of seals in the Moray Firth to protect salmon farms may have an impact.
2/8 African lion (Panthera leo)
Where: Ghana. What: In Ghana’s Mole National Park, lion numbers have declined by more than 90 per cent in 40 years. Why: local conflicts are thought to have contributed to the slaughter of lions and are a worrying example of the status of the animal in Western and Central Africa.
3/8 Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
Where: Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Costa Rica. What: Numbers are down in both the Atlantic and Pacific. It declined by 95 per cent between 1989-2002 in Costa Rica. Why: mainly due to them being caught as bycatch, but they’ve also been affected by local developments.
4/8 Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans)
Where: South Atlantic. What: A rapid decline. One population, from Bird Island, South Georgia, declined by 50 per cent between 1972-2010, according to the British Antarctic Survey. Why: being caught in various commercial longline fisheries.
5/8 Saiga Antelope (Saiga tatarica)
Where: Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. What: fall in populations has been dramatic. In the early 1990s numbers were over a million, but are now estimated to be around 50,000. Why: the break up of the former USSR led to uncontrolled hunting. Increased rural poverty means the species is hunted for its meat
6/8 Swordfish (Xiphias gladius)
Where: found worldwide in tropical, subtropical and temperate seas. Why: at risk from overfishing and as a target in recreational fishing. A significant number of swordfish are also caught by illegal driftnet fisheries in the Mediterranean
7/8 Argali Sheep (Ovis mammon)
Where: Central and Southern Asian mountains,usually at 3,000-5,000 metres altitude. Why: domesticated herds of sheep competing for grazing grounds. Over-hunting and poaching.
8/8 Humphead Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus)
Where: the Indo-Pacific, from the Red Sea to South Africa and to the Tuamoto Islands (Polynesia), north to the Ryukyu Islands (south-west Japan), and south to New Caledonia. Why: Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing and trading of the species
“We’ve seen a fish with photosensitive plates that sit on the top of its head, tripod fish that sit up on their fins and face into the current.”
It is thought to be the first time such a fish has been caught since 1873 when one was recorded by the crew of HMS Challenger off the coast of Papua New Guinea.Reuse content