Catfish hunt pigeons in France

Researchers have for the first time observed catfish lying in shallow waters and hunting pigeons – a weird and unexpected behaviour most likely caused by the lack of food.

They released a set of rather gruesome images, highlighting how the catfish adopt a similar strategy to that used by killer whales hunting seals on ice floes. The catfish located in the River Tarn, Southern France, use their whiskers to sense vibrations in the water caused by the pigeons, thus detecting their presence. They wait in the shallow waters, and then… it’s all bad news for the unsuspecting pigeon.

Pigeons go to the shore to drink water and wash, and recently, fishermen started reporting this catfish hunting technique, alerting local biologists. Julien Cucherousset, from the University of Tolouse, was the first to observe and describe it in a paper published in PLoS ONE.

He believes the catfish do this due to a shortage in their usual diet, which consists of crayfish and smaller fish. The team collected samples from the catfish and analyzed the nitrogen and carbon content in order to determine the amount of pigeon that made up the catfish diet; they concluded certain fish develop a taste for pigeons, preferring it more than the usual prey, eating less fish as they eat more pigeons.

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