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Crazy fish attack video cracks up marine researchers

This is undersea comedy gold -- unless you're the barracuda.

Nature is metal.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research posted a video Thursday that's full of action, danger, one major surprise and a perfect dose of comedy.

You can hear members of NOAA's Windows to the Deep exploration team narrating the video as it happens. "It's a race to the burrow. The snail is winning," one person comments as a small sea snail makes it way toward the dangerous maw of an Atlantic Midshipman fish that is laying low. Quill worms surround the burrow.

Just when you think this is a story about a snail, the bottom-dwelling fish snatches a passing barracuda into its mouth, startling the expedition team, who end up in a laughing fit over the unexpected development. 

It's not over yet. The snail takes a head-first dive into the gaping burrow with a sense of comedic timing that would make Mel Brooks proud. The Office of Ocean Exploration and Research describes the snail as an "innocent (and unfortunate) bystander."

NOAA says the video represents a "rare opportunity to document a predation event in the deep sea."

The footage is from June 30, during the Windows to the Deep 2018 expedition's Dive 16. The dive involved the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer using a remote camera to investigate an undersea canyon off the coast of North Carolina. It goes to show just how dramatic life can be under the waves.