Video: 'Headless Chicken Monster' Sea Cucumber Filmed for First Time In Antarctic Ocean

A deep-sea swimming sea cucumber, also known as a “headless chicken monster,” was among the creatures filmed by Australian researchers for the first time using new camera equipment. 

The strange animal, Enypniastes eximia, was filmed off the coast of East Antarctica by researchers from the Australian Antarctic Division using an underwater camera system that can be attached to commercial fishing lines, said the Australian Department of the Environment.

It is the first time one of the creatures has been filmed in the Southern Ocean (Antarctic Ocean), and they have only been caught on camera before in the Gulf of Mexico.

Related to the sea cucumber, the creatures have developed fin structures allowing them to float through the sea, moving between sea-bed feeding spots and avoiding predators. They are most often bright pink, and some species can glow in the dark to ward off predators. 

Australian Antarctic Division Program Leader, Dirk Welsford, said the new camera system is providing valuable data for conservationists. 

“The housing that protects the camera and electronics is designed to attach to toothfish longlines in the Southern Ocean, so it needs to be extremely durable. We needed something that could be thrown from the side of a boat, and would continue operating reliably under extreme pressure in the pitch black for long periods of time,” Welsford said.

antarctic A deep-sea swimming sea cucumber filmed off the coast of Antarctica by Australian researchers. Getty Images

“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. Most importantly, the cameras are providing important information about areas of sea floor that can withstand this type of fishing, and sensitive areas that should be avoided.”

Australia is one of the 25 nations and organisations that are members of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, pledged to preserving marine life and the marine environment near Antarctica. 

Australia’s CCAMLR Commissioner, Gillian Slocum, said the photos would be presented at the organization’s annual meeting in Hobart, Tasmania, this week, where it will argue for the creation of a new East Antarctic Marine Protected Area, where commercial fishing would be restricted. 

“The Southern Ocean is home to an incredible abundance and variety of marine life, including commercially sought-after species, the harvesting of which must be carefully managed for future generations,” Slocum said.

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