There’s always more fish in the sea. But for people living on land, it can be hard to see them. Many of the ocean’s deeper-dwelling fish are hidden from view for all but the most dedicated scuba divers, in part because it’s so difficult to bring those fish out of the deep waters. Now, a new pressurized chamber is helping to bring some of these unfamiliar creatures up to the surface.
Like divers, fish can’t simply come up to the surface from the deep ocean immediately. They need time to acclimate to surface pressure after living their whole lives in the sea. For fish living more than a few dozen feet below the surface, that means storing them in a specialized container that can maintain deep ocean pressures. A handful of these exist, but they’re usually bulky containers used to collect fish from thousands of feet below the waves.
A team of researchers at the California Academy of Sciences developed a better way to collect fish in the mesophotic zone, the region of the ocean between about 150 and 500 feet deep. Their method involves catching fish inside a container with a trap door, then placing that container inside a water filter housing. The diver blows a bubble of air inside the housing before sealing it. This bubble expands as the contraption ascends, maintaining a constant pressure and allowing the fish to reach the surface without suffering from the bends.
The result is an easy and portable way to transport uncommon fish from coral reefs around the world. Thanks to this new device, exotic fish are starting to pop up in aquariums. Now, aquarium-goers can see and learn about these types of fish, and scientists have an opportunity to study them up close.
Previously Published by: Popular Mechanics USA