'Headless chicken monster' filmed for first time in Southern Ocean waters

Katie Ramirez
October 23, 2018

It's the swimming sea cucumber Enypniastes eximia, and scientists recently captured video of this freakish, hen-mimicking swimmer in the Southern Ocean near eastern Antarctica, where it has never been seen before.

It's a surprising location for the species, Enypniastes eximia, to turn up. The cameras were attached to fishing lines that can be dropped almost two miles below the water's surface. It has only been caught on film once before, a year ago in the Gulf of Mexico. "And we're trying to find them so that the fishing industry can avoid fishing on them".

The video of the Enypniastes eximia was taken on Sunday by an underwater camera system developed by the Australian Antarctic Division for commercial long-line fishing, according to division program leader Dr. Dirk Welsford.

Some people have welcomed their new "headless chicken monster" master. The creature has previously only been filmed much farther north in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to NBC News, sea cucumbers are echinoderms, a phylum of invertebrate marine animals that includes starfish and sea urchins. The newspaper added that it was first spotted in the 1880s in Peruvian waters.

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Technically, it is called a "sea cucumber" (or Enypniastes eximia), which is just as freakish as its nickname, if slightly less terrifying.

The expedition that found the "monster" is part of a larger effort to learn more about the southernmost ocean on Earth.

"There are still many, many mysteries in the deep ocean that we're only just starting to scratch the surface of", Welsford told ABC.

"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", Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) commissioner Gillian Slocum said in a statement.

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