The great escape -- fleeing fish fall in line

March 31, 2007

With the unappealing prospect of being eaten, one might imagine that during a predator attack it is a case that all fish escape at once in the desperate hurry to escape as quickly as possible. However, new research indicates that this is not the case, and in fact fish in schools escape using a relatively fixed chronological order. This research was carried out at the International Marine Centre (IMC) in Sardinia, Italy, and will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology in Glasgow.

Scientists mimicked an aerial predator attack by mechanical stimulation and used a high speed camera to record responses in schools of ten grey mullet each. Individuals within a school were then ranked according to the timing of their escape. The experiment was performed ten times at 10 minute intervals on a total of seven separate schools of grey mullet. Interestingly, results suggested that there is a trend for individual fish to maintain a given rank, indicating that the chronological order of escape responses within a school is maintained in successive startle events.

Head of the research group Dr Paolo Domenici stated, “Our work is the first to show that fish maintained under the same conditions, with no differential treatment, show a tendency for keeping a relatively fixed chronological order of escape. This implies that in a given school certain individuals may have a greater influence on the escape strategies of the whole school.”

Researchers are keen to explore whether the tendency to keep a fixed chronological order of escape corresponds to a leadership maintained over a relatively long period of time.

Source: Society for Experimental Biology

Explore further: Too much red meat and too few vegetables may increase your body's biological age

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Archaeologists find ancient necropolis in Egypt

February 24, 2018

Egypt's Antiquities Ministry announced on Saturday the discovery of an ancient necropolis near the Nile Valley city of Minya, south of Cairo, the latest discovery in an area known to house ancient catacombs from the Pharaonic ...

AI and 5G in focus at top mobile fair

February 24, 2018

Phone makers will seek to entice new buyers with better cameras and bigger screens at the world's biggest mobile fair starting Monday in Spain after a year of flat smartphone sales.

Walking crystals may lead to new field of crystal robotics

February 23, 2018

Researchers have demonstrated that tiny micrometer-sized crystals—just barely visible to the human eye—can "walk" inchworm-style across the slide of a microscope. Other crystals are capable of different modes of locomotion ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.