‘Headless chicken monster’ spotted in murky depths beneath Antarctica (VIDEO)
“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,” Australian Antarctic Division Program Leader Dirk Welsford said.
The monster, alternatively known as the ‘Spanish Dancer’, or Enypniastes eximia, is a deep-sea swimming sea cucumber typically found bottom-feeding in certain parts of the world. The creature has previously only been filmed much farther north in the Gulf of Mexico.
The 11-25cm length, scarlet-colored sea cucumber propels itself through the water using webbed ‘wings’ on either side – and instead of a head there’s just a nub with tentacles sticking out of it. The creature is semi-transparent and its intestines can be seen through its body, especially soon after feeding time.
Like most sea cucumbers, these ‘headless chicken monsters’ feed by touching down on the seafloor and stuffing their ‘face’ with their tentacles before shooting back up in the water. They typically feed for periods of just 60 seconds at a time.
The footage is being used to widen the scope of marine conservation efforts in the Antarctic, as well as grossing out landlubbers everywhere. The team’s findings will be submitted Monday at the annual 10-day CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) in Hobart.
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