Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Pack Hunting in Electric Eels

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Behavior, Biological Evolution, Nature, Wildlife

Ed Hessler

The headline to an essay by Sofia Moutinha about a recently published finding in the scientific journal Science was irresistible: Shocking discovery: Electric eels hunt in packs in Amazon rivers.

Pack hunting is found in a range of species: orcas or killer whales, tuna, and wolves. Moutinha writes that The finding, a first among electric fishes, may open the way for new studies to investigate when social predation evolved among fishes. Moutinha quotes Douglas Bastos, a biologist at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (Manaus. Brazil) who first saw a group attack in 2012. Usually the eels, which can grow as long as a broomstick and weigh up to 20 kilograms, prey alone at night, targeting single resting fishes.. This behavior is unprecedented for electrical eels and also rare among freshwater fishes.

A very short AND impressive video (10s) accompanies Moutinha's introduction to this behavior. There is a longer clip in this BBC story on this behavior. The story which contains more information includes a picture of the two main scientists involved, one of whom, Dr. Carlos David de Santana, is holding an electric eel. They are not small--in length or circumference!

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