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article imageHeadless chicken monster filmed in Antarctic waters for 1st time

By Karen Graham     Oct 22, 2018 in Environment
New underwater camera technology developed by Australian researchers is shining a light on previously unseen species, including a sea cucumber known as the "headless chicken monster" in the Southern Ocean to help improve marine conservation.
The sea cucumber, Enypniastes eximia, also known as a “headless chicken monster," has been filmed before, but in the Gulf of Mexico, so researchers were thrilled to see a headless chicken monster in the depths of the Southern Ocean waters off East Antarctica.
The sea cucumber was discovered using new underwater camera technology developed for commercial long-line fishing by researchers with the Australian Antarctic Division in Tasmania.
Australian Antarctic Division Program Leader Dr. Dirk Welsford, said the cameras are capturing important data which is being fed into the international body managing the Southern Ocean, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
Australian Antarctic Division Fisheries Technician  Tim Lamb  works on an underwater camera.
Australian Antarctic Division Fisheries Technician, Tim Lamb, works on an underwater camera.
Jessica Fitzpatrick/Australian Antarctic Division
“The housing that protects the camera and electronics is designed to attach to toothfish longlines in the Southern Ocean, so it needs to be extremely durable,” Dr. Welsford said. “We needed something that could be thrown from the side of a boat, and would continue operating reliably under extreme pressure in the pitch black for long periods of time.”
It is hoped that the footage showing the Enypniastes eximia will help in hastening a long-running push to create a new Antarctic conservation zone. And what has really helped in this endeavor is that other CCAMLR nations, such as Chile, France, and the United Kingdom are now also using the super-strengthened devices.
“It’s a really simple and practical solution which is directly contributing to improving sustainable fishing practices,” Dr. Welsford said. “Most importantly, the cameras are providing important information about areas of seafloor that can withstand this type of fishing and sensitive areas that should be avoided," he added.
Two of the underwater cameras developed to enhance the sustainability of long line fishing in the So...
Two of the underwater cameras developed to enhance the sustainability of long line fishing in the Southern Ocean.
Australian Antarctic Division/Jessica Fitzpatrick
The data from the cameras is being presented at the annual CCAMLR meeting that began today in Hobart, Australia. Australia’s CCAMLR Commissioner, Ms. Gillian Slocum, said Australia will continue to lead on the most pressing issues facing the Southern Ocean, including biodiversity conservation, climate change, and science-based fisheries management.
“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,” Ms. Slocum said.
More about Australian Antarctic Division, headless chicken monster, Southern Ocean, Sea cucumber, sustainable fishing
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