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Meet the Mariana snailfish, the sea’s deepest fish

Mariana snailfish
The Mariana snailfish is the deepest fish collected from the ocean floor. (UW Photo)

They look like ghosts of the abyss, but the wispy, pinkish-white, smooth-skinned creatures at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench have a distinction of substance: They’re the deepest fish ever brought up from the deep sea.

Now the species known as the Mariana snailfish has its official scientific name: Pseudoliparis swirei, a Latin-inspired designation paying tribute to Herbert Swire, a navigator on the 19th-century expedition that discovered the Mariana Trench.

A researcher at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories played a key role in Pseudoliparis swirei’s discovery. UW’s Mackenzie Gerringer is the lead author of a paper on the species’ discovery, published today in the open-access journal Zootaxa.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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