Teams of researchers from three Brazilian federal universities (UFRPE, UFPE and UFRJ) found bizarre species of fish in the depths of Brazilian seas. The alien -looking creatures inhabit the so-called ‘mesopelagic zone’, which extends from 200 to 1000 meters below the water’s surface.
In total, the scientists came across 200 species of fish, of which eight were previously unknown and another 50 had never been seen in Brazilian waters. According to a study published by the researchers, they are essential for the ecosystems to which they belong, playing roles such as carbon sequestration, which consists of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which contributes to maintaining the Earth’s climate.
“Marine ecosystems are critical to the survival of thousands of species, including humans. However, they are impacted in numerous ways. For example: climate change, pollution and habitat destruction, etc. They need to be protected. But it is not possible to protect what we do not know. Therefore, the recently published work is important because it increases knowledge in one of the largest and least known ecosystems in the world, enabling conservation and sustainable development initiatives”, says Leandro Nolé, professor at the Federal Rural University of Pernambuco (UFRPE), in an interview. to Ecoa Uol .
The fish that inhabit the mesopelagic zone are known to live in the oceanic depths during the day and perform daily migrations to the surface at night. In addition, they are among the most abundant vertebrates in the world.
They are able to survive the inhospitable conditions of the deep sea thanks to some special adaptations, such as bioluminescence (the ability to produce their own light), advanced visual systems that allow them to see in the dark, as well as a low metabolism and high tolerance for changes in the environment. . Their bizarre appearances are nothing more than a reflection of these adaptations.
The vertical journey that these fish make daily involves trillions of individuals and is the biggest migration on the planet. During the day, these animals stay in the depths to hide from potential predators, while at night they go up to look for food.
One of the species found by scientists that reflects the physical adaptations necessary to survive in the depths | Credit: UFRPE.
“The phrase ‘better hungry than dead’ pretty much sums up why so many animals submit to this gigantic game of hide and seek. By feeding at night and hiding during the day, migration allows them to balance their need to eat with their need to avoid being eaten,” explains Nolé.
This migration is responsible for the aforementioned carbon sequestration, since, as they return to deep waters, these fish carry with them the carbon they have assimilated on the surface, which can be trapped in the seabed for thousands of years, preventing it from rising to the atmosphere and contribute to climate change .