Is this snailfish really the world’s deepest fish?
Last updated: December 9, 2019 at 21:02 pm
The Internet has become a treasure trove of misinformation, propaganda and “alternative facts” where anyone with a computer or mobile device can add to the ever-expanding sea of hoopla with no concern for accountability… and the world of diving and underwater exploration is no exception. Don’t you think it is time for the diving community to refer to a central body of information such as the Diving Almanac to celebrate its many outstanding accomplishments and personalities?
From CNN | May 23, 2018
Claim: “From the tops of a massive tree all the way to the bottom of the ocean, new species from around the world make the list for this year (2018).”
False. The Swire’s snailfish, Pseudoliparis swirei, more commonly referred to as the Mariana snailfish, was discovered in 2014.
Claim: “… is the deepest confirmed fish in the sea. It was discovered living between 22,000 and 26,000 feet below the surface.”
Incorrect depth. Pseudoliparis swirei was captured on video at the depth of 8,178 m (26,831 ft) in 2017.
False. A cusk-eel (Abyssobrotula galatheae) was reportedly collected at the depth of 8,370 m (27,461 ft) in 1970.
Claim: “It is believed that fish cannot survive below 27,000 feet.”
False. Even if the 1970 cusk-eel capture were proven incorrect, Dr. Jacques Piccard reported observing a sole-like fish on the seafloor during his record submersible descent in the Challenger Deep (10,916 m | 35,814 ft) in 1960.
“Lying on the bottom just beneath us was some type of flatfish, resembling a sole, about 30 cm (1 ft) long and 15 cm (6 in.) across. Even as I saw him, his two round eyes on top of his head… here apparently, was a true, bony teleost fish, not a primitive ray or elasmobranch… slowly, this flatfish swam away.” — From: Seven Miles Down: The Story of the Bathyscaphe Trieste (1961) by J. Piccard and R. S. Dietz. pp. 172-174. Published by the Putnam, New York.
If CNN and the BBC, let alone big-name dive publications, impulsively piggyback unsubstantiated record announcements without fact checking, who can you trust? Just because you can’t find a record during a Google search doesn’t mean it hasn’t already been done. In fact, lots of people would be surprised to know how many records set half a century ago aren’t available online… except in the Diving Almanac! Try to look up even the most obvious of records such as the deepest scuba dive and you will obtain several conflicting answers that are usually out of date. Making sure a record attempt is novel should unquestionably be established before one solicits sponsors and makes the announcement. When in doubt, consult the Diving Almanac or contact us and we will gladly establish the validity of a record to the best of our knowledge or suggest variations to ensure it is indeed record-setting.
Don’t you think it is time for the diving community to refer to a central body of information such as the Diving Almanac to celebrate its many outstanding accomplishments and personalities?
The Diving Almanac celebrates the achievements of a unique group of people that share a passion for underwater adventure and discovery. It is a stage and tribune for all divers, regardless of nationality or association, to share their sporting, scientific and technological endeavours, and to marvel at the incomparable feats of our sea-dwelling animal brethren that we so love to emulate. Whether you are a sport diver, a diving professional, or if you need to partake in occasional name-dropping, this is the website for you!
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Jeffrey Gallant is the Editor-in-Chief and Records Keeper of the Diving Almanac. He is also a contributing editor of DIVER Magazine, and the scientific director of the Greenland Shark and Elasmobranch Education and Research Group (GEERG). Jeffrey started diving in 1982.