Scientists have discovered a new species of fish in waters just six miles off the coast of New Zealand.
National Geographic reports that in a joint expedition between National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, researchers found a new species of eelpout -- a long, eel-like fish that lives at the bottom of the ocean.
According to a press release from the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab, the researchers explored waters well below the depth that light penetrates, on the edge of the Kermadec Trench -- one of the deepest places on earth.
"We are never quite sure what we will find on these expeditions to unchartered territories. We had set out to find out more about the deep sea fish communities and we were delighted to find both new species and new depth records for fish," voyage leader Dr. Alan Jamieson from Oceanlab said in a statement.
According to The Daily Mail, Jamieson said, "It's always fantastic to discover new species of fish and to find a new type of eelpout is a massive success. It's even better for us because we spent most of the summer building the equipment that was used to find these fish and so it's even more gratifying to have success."
The results of the exploration are giving scientists a better understanding of biodiversity in the deep sea around New Zealand, which will help them to better assess possible risks to the ecosystem from future climate change or human activities such as seabed mining, explained Dr. Malcolm Clark, the principal scientist from NIWA.
In addition to the eelpout, scientists also found a rattail fish that has not been caught in New Zealand waters for more than a century.
"A voyage such as this is testament to how feasible scientific research in the deep sea has become. It is no longer the inaccessible, out of reach, part of the world it once was. The technological challenges of the past no longer exist, and shouldn't limit our responsibility to learn about and understand the deep sea to help ensure the long term health of the deep oceans, one of the largest environments on earth," Jamieson said in the press release.