(earther.gizmodo.com)—In further proof that the deep sea is stranger than outer space, scientists have discovered what they believe to be three new species of snailfish nearly 25,000 feet (7,500 meters) below the ocean’s surface in the Atacama Trench. The translucent, scaleless creatures look like ghosts that accidentally entered our world through some kind of rift in the spacetime continuum.
Located off the coasts of Peru and Chile, the 3,700-mile long (6,000 km) Atacama Trench bottoms out at 26,460 feet (8,065 meters). While still a few thousand meters shy of the ocean’s deepest spot in the Mariana Trench, it’s a dark, alien world of crushing pressures and near-freezing temperatures. But as a recent exploration of the trench demonstrates, it is also very much alive.
The Newcastle University-led expedition, which involved deploying two deep sea “landers” to capture more than 100 hours of video footage, revealed a vibrant trench-dwelling ecosystem that includes shrimp-like amphipods and long-legged isopods. The three new snailfish were the highlight, though.