This article was originally published on Field and Steam.
A team of researchers captured some epic footage of a sailfish hunt — from the sailfish’s perspective. Researchers at Nova Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute designed a tag using high-tech sensors and a Go Pro-like video camera. After catching sailfish while fishing from Panama’s Tropic Star Lodge, they tagged and released their catches. The research was originally intended to show how sailfish recovered from being caught by fishermen, but instead researchers shifted their focus to hunting sailfish.
Relatively little is known about the hunting behavior of sailfish, thought to be the world’s fastest fish, according to the study’s authors. The most well-known type of sailfish hunting occurs when the apex predators band together and attack baitfish, using their sharp beaks to slash and stun their prey. These predation events are easy for humans to see as they take place entirely on the sea surface. But recent research looked at what happens when sailfish hunt alone.
“Most of the day they dive back and forth between the surface and the thermocline, where the water gets cold. The thermocline can concentrate prey that doesn’t want to go out at the deep end, so it looks like the sailfish is using this to its advantage,” lead author Ryan Logan told Phys.org. “Most of what you see in the videos is just a lot of blue water, but when I saw the sailfish swimming to the surface very quickly, I knew something was wrong.”
The researchers captured footage of a 100-pound sailfish leaping to the ocean’s surface from a depth of 200 feet to chase a small tuna. The Sailfish will attack the Tuna multiple times, splashing to the surface of the water each time before successfully killing the Tuna. Researchers say the footage, along with measurements of sailfish metabolic rates, is a step toward understanding previously unknown aspects of sailfish biology, such as how B. how often they need to eat.
“While the energy gains from this predation event were substantial compared to what was expended during the pursuit, the amount of energy expended throughout the day and night searching for prey was substantial,” the researchers wrote . “The approach we have chosen could serve as a starting point to inform future energetic and trophic models and improve our understanding of the role of these pelagic predators in our oceans.”