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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Field Note: Fish Dinner

Published: February 6, 2018


By Mark Seth Lender


Wahoo are similar to Barracuda, but bigger. (Photo: Aquaimages, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.5)

Living on Earth Resident Explorer Mark Seth Lender shares a brief field note on his story from the Sea of Cortez, "Fish Dinner."

The swimming pattern exhibited by these three fish is the product of a cooperative hunting strategy. They formed up tightly when traveling, but spread out so that they effectively occupied - and controlled – all the space around me when they circled to look me over (this on both occasions). In other words, they had the wit to stay close to each other when searching, presenting a smaller and less visible target. But having found something of interest (me) they distributed themselves in such a ways as to close off all escape.

The wildlife is smarter than we think. Fish included.

I should add I’ve never had barracuda do this. They stay in formation, and watch. They want you to stay away, that’s all. I’ve never been afraid of them. The wahoo, whom we think of as nothing more than large mackerel, well, if they ever get bigger or we get smaller, it might a different story.

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