Scientists just got a whole new look at what lurks deep below the ocean's surface.
Eerie, transparent fish and supergiant crustaceans were filmed swimming 8,145 meters deep -- about 5 miles down -- in the Mariana Trench earlier this month. It's the deepest anyone has ever seen a fish, breaking the previous record from 2008 by nearly 500 meters.
The strange-looking fish appears to be a whole new species.
“This really deep fish did not look like anything we had seen before, nor does it look like anything we know of," said research team member Alan Jamieson of the University of Aberdeen, in a statement. “It is unbelievably fragile, with large wing-like fins and a head resembling a cartoon dog."
Jamieson told ABC News he's pretty sure it's a type of snailfish, though the scientists weren't able to capture any for further study or to give the new species an official name.
The Mariana Trench, which plunges seven miles down into the Pacific Ocean about 3,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, is the deepest place on earth. It's thought to be the oldest section of the ocean floor geologically and is known for introducing new organisms whenever scientists are able to successfully explore the extreme location.
“Many studies have rushed to the bottom of the trench, but from an ecological view that is very limiting. It’s like trying to understand a mountain ecosystem by only looking at its summit,” said the University of Hawaii's Jeff Drazen, who, along with UH colleague Patty Fryer and Jamieson, led an international team of researchers on a 30-day voyage to scope out the trench.
The team launched unmanned landers equipped with cameras to film more than 100 hours of footage. By exploring the sides of the trench, rather than the central floor, they found colonies teeming with unique creatures, such as those eerie, transparent fish.
A closer view of what's presumed to be a type of snailfish by researchers who discovered it nearly five miles into the Mariana Trench.
Because snailfish possess a compound that helps stabilize their proteins under immense pressure, they are found in deep zones generally too pressurized for other fish. Jamieson believes there is a certain threshold of pressure where fish cease to survive underwater, and the newly discovered fish are very near that limit.
"You can see its liver through the side of the fish," Jamieson told National Geographic, describing their frailty. "It's like tissue paper being dragged through the water."