'Headless chicken monster' filmed for the first time near Antarctica

headless chicken monster, a kind of sea cucumber
© Australian Antarctic Division/YouTube

Australia was already cool enough, what with its kangaroos and crocodile hunters. But the land down under has really outdone itself *down under* the sea this time (I'm so sorry, I had to). Australians invented a deep sea water camera that managed to film something that had never been filmed in the Southern Ocean before: a headless chicken monster.

No, it's not a chicken that lost its head and became a monster. The "headless chicken monster" is amazing slang for a kind of sea cucumber (another great term). This little guy spends most of her time waddling around the sea floor, using tiny feet to eat sediments. She can swim too, using fins to push off against the sea floor.

These animals are going extinct thanks to overfishing. Previously, people had only filmed the animal swimming in the wild in the Gulf of Mexico, and that was only in 2017.

“For me what is remarkable about this discovery is that we had no idea that this organism would be found in the Southern Ocean. All the previous specimens we could find records of are from further north than where we recorded it at Heard Island,” Dirk Welsford, a leader in Australia's Department of the Environment, told Gizmodo. “It highlights how little we know about the deep ocean, particularly down south.”

The researchers say the camera could make fishing more sustainable.

“The cameras are providing important information about areas of seafloor that can withstand this type of fishing, and sensitive areas that should be avoided,” said Welsford in a statement.

I want to raise a glass to the headless chicken monster. I forget how weird and amazing the sea is, full of so many stunning forms of life. I hope that's always the case.

'Headless chicken monster' filmed for the first time near Antarctica
Scientists hope the technology that filmed it can make fishing more sustainable.

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