If you were wondering what this creature is and why is it nicknamed headless chicken monster, then you’re going to have a surprise. This sea creature is – of course – not a decapitated chicken ready to get roasted. It’s a sea cucumber that is also known as the swimming sea cucumber, the Spanish dancer, and its scientific name is Enypniastes eximia.
However, as pointed out by one of the researchers that caught it on the camera in a very unlikely area, it does look like our next dinner! Dirk Welsford is the program leader for the Australian Antarctic Division and was researching with his team the marine ecosystem in the southwest corner of Australia, in the Southern Ocean. Almost 2.500 miles (4.000 km) deep in the ocean, a creature was swimming in front of their camera.
“It looks a bit like a chicken just before you put it in oven,” said Welsford.
This sea cucumber is vital in filtering the organic matter on the ocean floor and has only been seen once last year in the Gulf of Mexico.
Dr. Welsford and his team were exploring the effects of commercial fishing on two fish species – the Antarctic toothfish and the Patagonian toothfish best known as the Chilean sea bass.
But when they spotted the “chicken,” they were baffled, said Dr. Welsford:
“We had no idea what it was.”
This sea cucumber has fins, which allows it to escape its predators. What was more interesting was that this species has never seen that near to Antarctica, which is very important for researchers in learning about the distribution of the species, and whether they are affected or not by climate change.
Dr. Welsford added that the “deep ocean habitat is enormous, and we’ve done so little research. It’s very early days,” concluding that this finding is “an amazing reflection of how little we know about the deep ocean.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.