Meet the newest ‘walking’ fish—a bright red creature of the deep

Written by on March 6, 2024

This odd-looking sea toad may look like crochet. But it’s one of a hundred species possibly new to science that have been found in underwater mountains off Chile.

A recent expedition discovered this likely new species of sea toad on an underwater mountain off Chile. Sea toads are ambush predators, using their lures to bring prey close and then attacking.

Sci-fi shows are full of alien encounters, but few of the imagined creatures are as bizarre as the ones in our own deep sea. A team exploring the ocean off Chile recently discovered more than a hundred strange-looking species that are likely new to science.

“Although finding new species in these areas, among the most remote and poorly explored in the world’s oceans, is not unexpected, finding dozens of them is thrilling and inspiring,” chief scientist Javier Sellanes, a marine biologist at the Catholic University of the North in Chile, told National Geographic in an email.

The scientists set sail early in 2024 aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Falkor (too) research vessel to explore the depths of the southeastern Pacific Ocean. They sent a robotic underwater vehicle, or ROV, equipped with lights and cameras down more than 5,000 feet to livestream the hidden wonders far beneath the waves.

Scientists found a life-form that resembles a living constellation and moves like an underwater tumbleweed; crimson crustaceans with long, spindly legs covered in spikes; and lots of organisms flashing with bioluminescence.

A round red fish with a small tail.

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