Scientists in Australia have discovered a mysterious “faceless fish” that has not been seen for more than a century during a deep sea expedition off the east coast which reached depths of 13,000 feet.

The researchers believe the 16-inch fish is the same type as a specimen caught during a scientific expedition by a British vessel in the Coral Sea, far to the north, in the 1870s.

The mouth of the fish is on its bottom, so that it appears to have no face when seen from the side.

“It is this fish with nostrils and a mouth and no face,” Di Bray, from Museums Victoria, told ABC News. “Apparently, it’s got eyes way under the surface but really you can’t see any eyes.”

The fish was found near Jervis Bay, south of Sydney, by researchers aboard a ship which belongs to the CSIRO, the national science agency.

During the two-week voyage, researchers have found a range of unusual creatures, including bright red spiky rock crabs, toxic urchins, deep sea eels, and large sea spiders.

“Everything down there at the crushing depth lives in practically no light and freezing cold water and many of the creatures have big fangs and no eyes and use smell to catch their prey,” Tim O’Hara, the expedition’s chief scientist, told Nine News.

“We have found fish with what looks like camera tripods under their mouths so they can sit on the sea floor and poisonous sea urchins with spines that look like flat pancakes.

“We use gloves and eye protection when we handle most of the species just in case.”