Scientists discover that deep sea fish migrate, too

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Fish migrations

Many birds fly south every fall, then back north in the spring. This is called migration.

Scientists have also recently identified long trips made every year by mule deer, elk and pronghorns in Montana and Wyoming as they walk between places where they spend the winter and summer. The animals and birds move to find more food as well as places that are warmer in winter. They learned this behavior as a way to help them survive.

Now researchers have recorded fish living in the ocean at depths of more than 600 feet — the deepest parts of the ocean — making regular migrations, something that had never been recognized before.

The deep sea covers much of the Earth’s surface, about 60%. So it seems to make sense that fish are moving throughout those waters to find food at different times of the year.

Scientists discovered the fish migrations by looking at deep sea photographs taken for more than seven years off the coast of West Africa. The photographs were taken by the Deep-ocean Environmental Long-term Observatory System, or DELOS. It sits on the ocean floor at a depth of about 4,600 feet deep and has a variety of equipment onboard, including cameras.

Based on what they’ve discovered, scientists are guessing similar migrations are happening in other deep waters, they just haven’t been recorded.

“The work really adds to our understanding of movement patterns in deep-sea fishes and suggests reasons for their behaviors,” said Rosanna Milligan, assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University in Florida.

— Brett French,

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