While on a recent mission to map the sea floor in their new ocean explorer, RV Investigator, researchers with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) made a startling discovery just off the coast from Sydney, Australia: An extinct volcanic range teeming with nightmarish fish, reports CSIRO News.
One of the fish found lurking in this undersea range is the creature pictured above, a tiny, jet black, fanged, scaleless creature. Chief scientist for the voyage, UNSW marine biologist professor Iain Suthers, said he was amazed by how many of these little creatures could be found so far out to sea. The discovery could change how researchers study juvenile fish.
"We had thought fish only developed in coastal estuaries, and that once larvae were swept out to sea, that was end of them," explained Suthers. "But in fact, these eddies are nursery grounds for commercial fisheries along the east coast of Australia."
The features of the sea floor, such as with the underwater volcanic range discovered on this voyage, can create eddies that provide ideal places for life to flourish. The scaleless black fish is not the only strange creature discovered. Also lurking were eel-like idiacanthidae and the ever-frightening chauliodontidae, both pictured here:
The extinct volcanic range itself consisted of four calderas estimated at around 50 million years old. It is located about 200 kilometers off the coast of Sydney, Australia, and is roughly 20 kilometers long and about 6 kilometers wide, and it rises 700 meters off the ocean floor at the highest point.
"This is the first time these volcanoes have been seen," professor Richard Arculus of the Australian National University told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "It proves yet again that we know more about the topography of Mars than we do the sea bed in our own backyard."