‘Headless chicken monster’ recorded for 1st time in Antarctica waters

‘Headless chicken monster’ recorded for 1st time in Antarctica waters

A mysterious deep-sea creature, Enypniastes eximia, also known as the headless chicken monster, has been filmed in the waters of the Southern Ocean off East Antarctica. Previously, only its image had been captured in the Gulf of Mexico. This time it has been discovered using an underwater camera system developed for commercial longline fishing by the Australian Antarctic Division.

The new underwater camera technology developed by Australian researchers is illuminating species never before seen in the Southern Ocean to help improve marine conservation. According to the leader of the Australian Antarctic Division Program, Dirk Welsford, the cameras are capturing important data that is being sent to the international body that administers the Southern Ocean, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). “The housing that protects the camera and electronic devices is designed to adhere to longlines in the Southern Ocean, so it must be extremely durable,” he says.

The cameras provide important information about the seabed areas that can support this type of fishing and the sensitive areas that should be avoided. The data collected will be presented at the annual meeting of CCAMLR that will begin tomorrow in Hobart.

Welsford says that other CCAMLR nations, such as Chile, France and the United Kingdom, are also using the super-reinforced devices, which are manufactured at the AAD headquarters in Tasmania. “Some of the images that we are recovering from the cameras are impressive, including the species that we have never seen in this part of the world,” says the scientist. “It’s a really simple and practical solution that directly contributes to improving sustainable fishing practices,” explains Welsford.

Australian CCAMLR Commissioner Gillian Slocum says Australia will support two new Marine Protected Areas. “The Southern Ocean is home to an incredible abundance and variety of marine life, including commercially sought species, whose collection must be carefully managed for future generations,” he concludes.

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