In Mexico, fish have learned to create a wave, protecting themselves from birds of prey

Observa cómo estos peces molly del Teapa (Poecilia sulphuraria) hacen una ola brillante para evitar el ataque de las aves.

— Enrique Coperías (@CienciaDelCope) December 23, 2021

Researchers from the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Germany studied rare molly del Teapa (Poecilia sulphuraria) fish living in sulfide springs in Mexico. During the observations, experts noticed a strange behavior of fish that had never been seen before.

At certain moments, hundreds of thousands of fish gathered together and, like fans at the stadium, made a “Mexican wave” — they took turns diving and returning to their seats. Scientists have estimated that about four thousand fish or more can take part in such a wave. And the waves themselves are very fast, noticeable and rhythmic.

At first, this behavior of fish confused scientists. But after studying this phenomenon, they came to the conclusion that in this way the fish are protected from the attack of birds of prey. Moreover, they began to make waves also when a person appeared.

Experts believe that initially it could have been individual behavior, but then the fish coordinated for more effective protection.

According to the researchers, these fish have already formed a certain reflex, and if one of them starts diving, a chain reaction immediately starts and the rest of the fish pick up the wave, even if they themselves did not see any danger. 

The authors of the study note that such tactics are really effective — “Mexican waves” confuse birds, increase the intervals between attacks and make hunting fish difficult and unsuccessful, writes the Daily Mail with reference to a study published in the journal Current Biology.

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