Researchers find faceless fish in unexplored abyss

A "faceless" fish and other freaky and wonderful creatures, many of them new species, have been discovered during a world-first exploration of a deep-sea abyss off Australia, scientists said today.

Scientists onboard the CSIRO's Investigator are surveying Commonwealth marine reserves from northern Tasmania to central Queensland.

This is the first time the eastern abyss has been surveyed, providing an opportunity for scientists to collect baseline data about its biodiversity.

The crew commented they are collecting many specimens which have been unknown to Australian waters until now. "We're not even scratching the surface of what we know about our abyssal plain fishes", Bray said.

Marine life remains some of the most freaky on our planet, and now a rediscovered species of fish in Australia without a face is the latest example.

"This little fish looks fantastic because the mouth is actually situated at the bottom of the animal so, when you look side-on, you can't see any eyes, you can't see any nose or gills or mouth", O'Hara remarked, via satellite.

Since the voyage began on May 15, the scientists have collected bright red spiky rock crabs, puffed-up coffinfish, blind sea spiders and deep sea eels, according to AFP.

"That's kind of the highlight so far for us", Bray said.

It is also said that the fish had been caught before back in 1870s in the Coral Sea by HMS Challenger's pioneering scientific crew.

"We've seen PVC pipes and we've trawled up cans of paints", he continued.

Life at such depths is one of crushing pressures, no light, little food and freezing temperatures, with animals that call it home evolving unique ways to survive.

'The abyss is the largest and deepest habitat on the planet, covering half the world's oceans and one third of Australia's territory, but it remains the most unexplored environment on Earth, ' Tim O'Hara, chief scientist aboard the ship, said in a statement. In the middle of nowhere and still the sea floor has 200 years of rubbish on it, ' he said.

  • Joanne Flowers