Thursday, 24 April 2014

Sailfish Stealthily Slash Prey with Bills

By Stephanie Pappas, Senior Writer | April 22, 2014 07:01pm ET

The purpose of a sailfish's iconic bill has long been a mystery. But now, new high-speed video of sailfish on the hunt reveals the fish use their bills to sneak into schools of fish before slashing and jabbing their prey.

After braving high seas and disruptive dolphins to capture the footage, researchers analyzed these high-speed sailfish videos frame-by-frame and found that the bills give their carnivorous owners the advantage of surprise. Schooling sardines don't seem to notice the slender bill poking into their midst until the blows start raining down.

"It's this combination of stealth and very high acceleration that makes this type of attack so powerful," said study researcher Jens Krause, an ecologist at the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries and Humboldt University in Berlin. "It's a highly specialized form of attack."

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