A sea cucumber nicknamed the “headless chicken monster” has been filmed in waters off Antarctica for the first time, using new underwater technology. It’s hoped the discovery can help a conservation drive in the region.
The unusual creature, Enypniastes eximia, had previously only been seen in the Gulf of Mexico. It has now been captured by Australian researchers in the Southern Ocean.
Using camera technology developed for commercial long-line fishing, the Australian Antarctic Division has been gathering important data about the sea floor.
“Some of the footage we are getting back from the cameras is breathtaking, including species we have never seen in this part of the world,” programme leader Dr Dirk Welsford said.
The new information is due to be presented to the international body managing the Southern Ocean – the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) – at its annual meeting in Hobart.
Researchers say it can help determine which areas of the sea floor can withstand long-line fishing and which areas should be avoided.
Australia has been pushing for the creation of a new marine protected area in the east Antarctic.