Rare deep sea fish found in Australia expedition, including blind eel

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Hair-raising photos of newly discovered sea creatures that evolved to survive the world’s deepest depths reveal an extraordinary look at life from the abyss.

Images were released earlier this month of several previously unknown fish discovered in the Indian Ocean off of Australia’s remote Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Park. A blind eel with transparent, gelatinous skin was among the never-before-seen specimens. 

The research vessel operated by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, mapped the park area in detail for the first time, collecting samples from as deep as three miles below the surface. The vessel’s 35-day journey covered nearly 7,000 miles and ended Nov. 3.

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The science team found “massive” ancient sea-mountains, canyons formed from avalanches of sand and “an amazing number of potentially new species living in this remote marine park,” said Tim O’Hara, Chief Scientist of the expedition.  

CSIRO Hydrographic Surveyor Nelson Kuna said that very little high-resolution mapping had been done in the park prior to this voyage.

“It’s truly an honor to see, for the first time, these stunning features revealed from the deep,” Kuna said.

A Lamprogrammus eel.
Highfin Lizard fish are deep-sea predators with mouths full of long sharp teeth.
Flatfish.
Sloane’s Viperfish have huge fang-like teeth that are visible even when the mouth is closed. Viperfish have rows of light organs along the underside and a very long upper fin with light organs on the tip to attract prey.
Sloane’s Viperfish
Synophobranchus arrowtooth eel.
The Tribute Spiderfish uses long lower fins with thickened tips to prop up off the ocean bottom and feed on small prawns that drift by.

The voyage is a collaboration between Museums Victoria Research Institute and CSIRO, in partnership with Bush Blitz, Parks Australia, Australian Museum Research Institute and the Western Australian Museum.

Jason Mundy of Parks Australia said the voyage is important to better understand the unique habitats and species of remote waters.

Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY’s NOW team. 

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