On fish that hunt like lions

Nieuws | de redactie
22 november 2011 | Some fish hunt in groups just like lions. This was the main finding of three scientists from the Swiss University of Neuchâtel following thorough research diving in the Red Sea.

Lions, orcas, dolphins, hyenas, some hawks and several otherspecies collaborate when they hunt, with each individual in thegroup performing different but complementary actions with thesingular goal of bringing down prey. Now we can add a species offish to the list of collaborative hunters-the yellow saddlegoatfish (Parupeneus cyclostomus), which lives in the shallowwaters of the Red Sea.

A group of researchers (who report their findings in Ethology) traveled to Egypt and spent a lot oftime snorkeling, watching the goatfish, recording their behaviorand taking photographs of the fish. Yellow saddle goatfish are easyto recognize underwater due to their size, color and pattern ofblack spots on their body and fins. Individual fish can bedistinguished in photos due to differences in the shape of the bluelines around their eyes.

Hunting in groups

The goatfish often congregate in groups. And when one fishstarts accelerating towards a prey fish, other members of the groupjoin in the hunt. These “blockers” spread out over the reef to cutoff the prey fish’s escape routes, giving their buddy, the”chaser,” a better chance at making a successful catch.

Other species of goatfish eat only invertebrates, while theyellow saddle variety chases other fish. The researchers suggestthat the collaborative hunting behavior is essential for the yellowsaddle goatfish to successfully hunt other fish on the reef andthat the behavior may have evolved to allow them to exploit thatsource of food.

Carine Strübin,, Marc Steinegger,, & Redouan Bshary(2011). On Group Living and Collaborative Hunting in the YellowSaddle Goatfish Parupeneus cyclostomus) Ethology, 117 (11),961-969.

This research was furthermore published on the United Academicblog.

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