It looks like an alien creature, but these pictures actually show a newly-discovered sea monster that lives deeper in the ocean than any other fish.
Scientists have discovered a new species of snailfish that swims at depths of up to five miles in the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the world’s oceans.
Its been named the Mariana snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei) and lives a rather pleasant and ‘happy’ life underneath 8,000 metres of sea, according to the scientists who found it.
At this depth, the pressure is so great that its similar to ‘similar to an elephant standing on your thumb’, researchers said.
Little is known about how creatures manage to survive these intense pressures, which make the deep sea as inhospitable to most lifeforms as outer space.
Down in the abyss, the newly-discovered snailfish is the top predator and has little competition for prey.
Thomas Linley, a Newcastle University academic who has published a paper on the discovery, said: ‘Snailfishes have adapted to go deeper than other fish and can live in the deep trenches.
‘Here they are free of predators, and the funnel shape of the trench means there’s much more food.
‘There are lots of invertebrate prey and the snailfish are the top predator. They are active and look very well-fed.’
Snailfish are quite sociable beasties and hang around in large groups, feasting on small crustaceans and shrimp.
Mackenzie Gerringer, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington who is main author of the paper, added: ‘This is the deepest fish that’s been collected from the ocean floor, and we’re very excited to have an official name.
‘They don’t look very robust or strong for living in such an extreme environment, but they are extremely successful.
‘It’s amazing to see what lives there. We think of it as a harsh environment because it’s extreme for us, but there’s a whole group of organisms that are very happy down there.’