Strange Gelatinous Fish Extracted from Icy Depths in Alaska
The most incredible creatures that our species can imagine hide away where the sunlight doesn’t reach. Since humans have developed the technology necessary to penetrate the oceanic abysses, we have found nothing but surprises worthy of the wildest imaginations. This is the case with the small gelatinous fish that has been discovered in Alaska recently.
This discovery was announced this year and has caused a stir online. Don’t miss this article, because even though we still don’t know too much about this animal, what we do know will pique your curiosity. Here we go!
Abyssal fish: how to live without light
Some areas of the ocean are so deep that sunlight doesn’t reach the bottom. As in caves, there comes a point where the darkness is absolute. This zone, called the aphotic zone, begins at 200 meters (660 feet) deep where it receives less than 1% of sunlight.
Animals living in this area will, as a result, have a number of characteristics that allow them to adapt to this lack of light and survive. Let’s take a look at some of them:
- Many don’t have a bony skeleton: Most have a cartilaginous skeleton or no skeleton at all. Since there are no strong currents in deep waters and no light reaches them, fish don’t need a solid bone structure and don’t need calcium synthesis from vitamin D. Because of this, they don’t suffer from the great pressures of the sea floor.
- They aren’t brightly colored: As they live in complete darkness, abyssal fish don’t need to attract attention (or deter predators) by their appearance.
- They have no swim bladder: Thus, the external pressure and that of their own body are balanced. These fish don’t move from the seabed, so they have lost this flotation mechanism.
- Some species have bioluminescence: These patches of light are the only thing that illuminates at these depths. The presence of bioluminescent organs in these animals is due to hunting or reproductive strategies.
- Their mouths are very large in relation to their bodies: It’s common to see fish whose mouths occupy a large percentage of their total size, or even expand or dilate their stomachs. This adaptation is useful when catching large prey, as food is scarce on the seabed.
- Large or non-existent eyes: The absence of light in the aphotic zone gives rise to two radical adaptations. One is larger-than-normal eyes, which allow maximum light sensitivity. The other is the loss of the visual organ through disuse during the evolution of the species.
The strange gelatinous fish of the Alaskan depths
The abyssal waters of the North Pacific, besides being dark, are extremely cold. There, on an expedition near the Aleutian Islands, Sarah Friedman’s research team discovered a gelatinous fish in the icy waters of Alaska.
This animal belongs to the species Crystallichthys cyclospilus, a fish that belongs to the family Liparidae and the order Scorpeniformes. Generally, these are fish with elongated and gelatinous bodies, lacking scales and a swim bladder. Most of these species are benthic, but some, like the species in question, are capable of living at depths of more than 7,000 meters (4.3 miles).
In fact, the Crystallichthys cyclospilus, discovered on June 19, 2022 in these waters, lives exclusively in the North Pacific at a minimum depth of 830 meters (half a mile). Its body has a jelly-like texture to maintain neutral buoyancy while withstanding the high pressures at that depth.
Peculiarities of the Alaskan jellyfish, the Crystallichthys cyclospilus
In addition to this jelly-like feel, the Crystallichthys cyclospilus has many other characteristics that make it special. For example, its body is practically translucent, which allows it to blend in with its surroundings (especially in low light scenarios).
On the other hand, its ventral fins are modified in such a way that they take on the appearance of a suction cup. This, according to the researchers, allows it to adhere to seafloor surfaces so that it doesn’t have to fight the currents. It is a curious adaptation to save energy.
What the bottom of the sea hides from us
If the mainland seems immense to you and you think that there are still unexplored areas, then just imagine how much more there is to discover in the ocean. In fact, experts estimate that we’ve only discovered around 30% of the life estimated to live there.
The oceans contain information that could well overturn many of the theories accepted so far about evolution, marine ecology, and the future of the planet. Water is the cradle of life and a mystery that, unfortunately, many of us may not live to see unraveled. Even so, the path will always be more fascinating than the goal.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Burke, V. (1930). Revision of the fishes of the family Liparidae. Bulletin of the United States National Museum.
- Hernández-Urcera, J. & Guerra, Á. (2014). La vida en las grandes profundidades. Dendra médica. Revista de humanidades, 13(1), 34-48.
- Napazakov, V. V., & Chuchukalo, V. I. (2005). Feeding of liparids (Liparidae) in the western Bering Sea. Journal of Ichthyology, 45(4), 313-317.