‘Headless chicken monsters’ empty their guts to navigate the ocean floor (VIDEO)

They are some of the strangest plankton eaters to grace the bottom of the ocean and, now, the rare creatures known as ‘sea cucumbers’ have been recorded ‘dancing’ in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Sea cucumbers, or Holothuroidea, are soft-bodied animals that often reside in deep oceans, where they survive on decaying vegetation and plankton. Sucking up food through their tentacles, the gelatinous creatures move and swim by adjusting their density.

One way they do this is by expelling particles and mud they have consumed. The bizarre – and even sometimes glowing – cucumbers are the stars of new research footage published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The images were captured by marine biologists in the Gulf of Mexico between April and May. During the clip, researchers can be heard expressing their awe at the movements of the bizarre creatures. “Now this holothurian is trying to swim,” one NOAA expert remarks.

Meanwhile, another jokes: “Looks like he wants to take-off but he hasn’t got the clearance from traffic control yet.” According to the NOAA, the purple cucumber in the video is also sometimes known in some scientific circles as the “headless chicken monster”.

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“[It’s] a graceful purple swimmer that seems to spend most of its time a few meters above the bottom. However, it does not feed there. Rather, it drops from a neutrally buoyant ‘hover’ to the bottom and rapidly shovels sediment into its mouth with a ring of feeding tentacles,” the agency explained.

The latest footage was filmed during a NOAA dive at a previously unexplored mud volcano located in the Gulf of Mexico.

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