Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

'Headless Chicken Monster' to Help Antarctic Conservation Efforts

Oceans
Enipniastes eximia, aka "headless chicken monster." NOAA

Enypniasties eximia—a deep-sea swimming sea cucumber scientists have affectionately called the "headless chicken monster"has been caught on camera for the first time in Antarctic waters thanks to new underwater camera technology developed by Australian researchers.

Footage of the finned sea creature will be used to aid important marine conservation efforts in the Southern Ocean.


"All around the Antarctic there are areas known as 'Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems,' and we're trying to find them so the fishing industry can avoid fishing on them," Australian Antarctic Division's fisheries technician Tim Lamb says in the video below.

The researchers came across the rarely seen organism as part of a project to explore the impact of commercial fishing on the Antarctic toothfish and the Patagonian toothfish (Chilean sea bass), The New York Times reported.

The finding was made with an underwater camera system developed for commercial longline fishing by the Australian Antarctic Division. With a fishing line, the camera was dropped nearly two miles underwater.

"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," Dirk Welsford, program leader for the Australian Antarctic Division, said in a press release. "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."

The headless chicken monster has been caught on film only once before in the Gulf of Mexico last year. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it spends most of its time on the seafloor, feeding off of surface sediments. Unlike other sea cukes, the headless chicken monster has fins and tentacles to use for swimming or evading a predator. Its other common name is "Spanish dancer."

"From a research point of view, it's very interesting, because no one has seen that species that far south before," Welsford told The New York Times. He added that the discovery of the animal in the Southern Ocean helps scientists understand the species' distribution, and how it might be affected by climate change.

The Australian researchers will present this latest finding and other collected data to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), an international body managing the Southern Ocean.

Australia is seeking support for the creation of a new East Antarctic Marine Protected Area as well as two other new Marine Protected Areas.

"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," Australia's CCAMLR Commissioner Gillian Slocum said in the press release.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less
Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less

"Emissions from pyrotechnic displays are composed of numerous organic compounds as well as metals," a new study reports. Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images

Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.

Read More Show Less
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons. Curtis Palmer / CC by 2.0

By Ashutosh Pandey

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A women walks with COVID-19 care kits distributed by Boston's Office of Neighborhood Services in Boston, Massachusetts on May 28, 2020. The pandemic has led to a rise in single-use plastic items, but reusable bags and cloth masks can be two ways to reduce waste. JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP via Getty Images

This month is Plastic Free July, the 31 days every year when millions of people pledge to give up single-use plastics.

Read More Show Less