Thursday August 10, 2023

Laboratory Equipment

Divers in the Caribbean Sea often report that trumpetfish swim alongside parrotfish and other reef fish. This strange “shadowing” behavior remained unexplained until a research team diving in the reefs off the coast of Curaçao discovered trumpetfish were in fact concealing themselves while hunting.

In a new study, published in Current Biology, scientists tested if shadowing allowed trumpetfish to approach prey without being detected by pulling 3D-printed fish models past colonies of damselfish, which are a major trumpetfish food source.

When the trumpetfish model moved past alone, damselfish swam up to inspect, and rapidly fled back to shelter in response to the predatory threat. When a model of a herbivorous parrotfish, Sparisoma viride, moved past alone, the damselfish inspected and responded far less. Then, when a trumpetfish model was attached to the side of a parrotfish model to replicate the shadowing behavior of the real trumpetfish,  the damselfish responded just as they had to the parrotfish model alone: they did not detect the threat.

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