Rare Underwater 'Headless Chicken Monster' Photographed Off the Coast of Antarctica

Monday, 22 October 2018 - 10:27AM
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Monday, 22 October 2018 - 10:27AM
Rare Underwater 'Headless Chicken Monster' Photographed Off the Coast of Antarctica
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NOAA
There is a science to naming newly discovered creatures and organisms, but sometimes it's just easier for scientists to call a thing exactly what it looks like. The New York Times reports that a group of researchers working off the southwest coast of Antarctica recently spotted and photographed a sea cucumber known as a headless chicken monster. The weird little monster has only been filmed once before in the Gulf of Mexico, which makes the rare footage even more exciting to those who live for bizarre sea life.

"It looks a bit like a chicken just before you put it in oven," said Australian Antarctic Division program leader Dirk Welsford. Welsford and the other researchers in the group were using cameras dropped two miles beneath the surface to study the impact of commercial fishing on the Antartica toothfish and Chilean sea bass when they happened upon the creature. "We had no idea what it was," Welsford said. Headless chicken monster sightings date back to the 1800s according to The New York Times, and the animal is known by a couple other names (Enypniastes eximia, Spanish dancer, swimming sea cucumber) but not much is known about it. "From a research point of view, it's very interesting, because no one has seen that species that far south before," Welsford added. 



The researchers say that they caught footage of other rare sea creatures, but supplying the Internet with cool visuals isn't the only important outcome of their work. "Most importantly, the cameras are providing important information about areas of seafloor that can withstand this type of fishing, and sensitive areas that should be avoided," Welsford said in a statement. Data from the cameras is being presented today at the annual Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), where proposals will be made for two new protection areas around Australia to ensure that the headless chicken monster and other organisms survive. "Marine protected areas are one of the best tools we have to protect whole ecosystems in a comprehensive way," said executive director of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, Claire Christian. "Protecting the Southern Ocean means we protect the world's last great wilderness and help its magnificent species thrive."
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