Aussie scientists discover unusual sea cucumber deep in Southern Ocean
SYDNEY. KAZINFORM Australian scientists studying the Antarctic have filmed what they said is a highly unusual sea cucumber, marking the first time the organism has been spotted deep in the Southern Ocean, local media reported on Sunday, Xinhua reports.
"We'd never seen this thing before ... at the time, none of us actually knew what it was," Australian Antarctic Division scientist Dirk Welsford was quoted as saying by the ABC news channel.
Dubbed the "headless chicken monster", the bright purple sea cucumber sports bat-like wings and is as large as a basketball. It was recorded floating 3 km below the surface using special underwater cameras deployed by fishing boats in Antarctica, reported the channel.
The plankton-eating organism moves through the ocean depths and lowers itself to the ocean bed to feed, and is "quite charismatic the way it flies past the camera ... and quite unusual that it can swim", said Welsford.
The sea cucumber is also known as the "Spanish dancer" as its graceful stroke swaying in the water resembles a flamenco dress. It has been filmed only once before, in the Gulf of Mexico last year, according to the channel.
The remote Southern Ocean's extreme weather conditions mean much of its inhabitants remain a mystery and there are "almost certainly many, many more things that we don't know down there, waiting to be discovered," said the scientist.