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About This GigapanToggle
- Taken by
- Jason Buchheim
- Explore score
- 0.05 Gigapixels
- Date added
- Oct 15, 2009
- Date taken
- Oct 15, 2009
- environmental, experimental, nature, travel, underwater
A huge school of Salema fish avoid predation by aggregating into a ball.
By Odyssey Expeditions Tropical Marine Biology Voyages program director Jason Buchheim. Please visit www.odysseyexpeditions.com for more information on our unique educational adventure voyages for teenagers and college students.
D200, 10 photos with 15mm lens for full 360.
This is best viewed in a Virtual Reality 360 degree viewer here: www.3dpan.org/34815
A view from INSIDE the bait ball can be found here: gigapan.org/gigapans/34662/ or in Virtual Reality viewer here www.3dpan.org/34662
Salema fish can actually be hallucinogenic to eat! Known as 'dream fish', the herbivorous fish have toxins in their flesh from the algae that they eat that when ingested by humans produce severe auditory and visual hallucinations. No, I did not try it. It was spooky enough inside the baitball.
Definition of 'Bait Ball': Schools of small fish cruise near the ocean's surface, feeding on plankton and other organic foodstuff. This schooling behavior evolved as a means of protection. If a shark or other predator approaches, the group parts in unison - making it difficult for the invader to target any individual. As a result, this type of attack often fails. Group hunting changes the odds. In a baitball feeding frenzy, a hunting party may consist of bottlenose dolphins, silky sharks, yellowfin tuna, rainbow runners, wahoo, marlin, jacks and even booby birds. They work in a cooperative effort to ensure a feast for all. A typical main course features teeming schools of juvenile jacks and chubs. When a lone predator, usually a shark or dolphin, discovers one of these floating smorgasbords and attacks, a number of events are set into action. Frightened fish elicit a unique odor and other sharks in the area rush to the scene. The fleeing fish then intensify their frantic swimming patterns, alerting even more nearby predators. Now, each member of the murderous team begins to execute its role. The silky sharks and bottlenose dolphins, which are usually mortal enemies, start to surround the school. Gradually, they increase speed and narrow their path, trapping the fish in a tight ball against the surface. Next tuna and marlin rip through the center of the ball, further disorientating the confused prey. Many of the injured bait fish quickly tire and are easily eaten. A full-blown baitball feeding frenzy leaves few survivors. As predators become satiated, new enlistees arrive to continue the slaughter. Against the odds, small groups of baitfish may escape. They will continue to cruise pelagic waters, eating as much as they can as quickly as they can. Once again, the rule of the ocean is clear and simple: get as big as you can before you get eaten.
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