Challenger Deep Flatfish

A flat abyssal Fish of the North Pacific Ocean.

Etymology: Named after the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.

Physical description: Solelike. Two distinct eyes.

Habitat: Visits or inhabits abyssal oceanic depths where no light penetrates.

Distribution: The Mariana Trench, east of Guam.

Significant sighting: On January 23, 1960, the bathyscaph Trieste, piloted by Jacques Piccard and Donald Walsh, reached a record depth of 35,800 feet (7 miles) in the Challenger Deep. As they touched down on the bottom, a flatfish with two distinct eyes swam away to avoid them.

Possible explanation: Torben Wolff suggested the animal was a Sea cucumber, perhaps the cushion-shaped Galatheathauria aspera, which has an oval shape. Eyes would be of absolutely no use at this depth.

Source: Jacques Piccard and R. S. Dietz, Seven Miles Down (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1961).

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