Most of the time, the eel responded by following the grouper (movie 4), which repeated the dance more slowly over the crevice where prey was hiding. Some scientists think the cognitive skill needed for cooperative hunting is one of the reasons that humans evolved intelligence.
The hunting habits of groupers, which are diurnal (day-active) predators that hunt in open water, are markedly different from moral eels, which are evasive nocturnal hunters that sneak through reef crevices in an attempt to ambush and corner prey. As such prey have distinctly different evasive behavior when confronted by groupers versus morays.
Towards the end of her life she had lost all of her teeth, and we witnessed the grouper bringing her food. Consequently, the best strategy for prey to adopt in order to avoid moray predation is to swim into open water,” write the authors.
“The hunting strategies of the two predators are therefore complementary, and a coordinated hunt between individuals of the two species confronts prey with a multi predator attack that is difficult to avoid; prey are not safe in open water because of the grouper hunting strategy but cannot hide in crevices because of the moray’s mode of attack.” The morays respond to the signal by leaving their crevice to join the grouper in swimming through the reef.
Groupers were even observed guiding moral eels to prey hidden in crevices. We found the following: (1) individual groupers and moray eels frequently spent more time in association than predicted by a null model of chance encounters, (2) groupers actively signaled to elicit joint hunting and to recruit moray eels, (3) satiated groupers did not signal, and (4) both partner species increased their hunting success in association.
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Share and his colleagues then studied a population of groupers and moray eels in a saltwater coral reef in Egypt's Ra's Mohammed National Park. In all, working with moray eels improved grouper hunting efficiency five-fold, the team reports in the current issue of Los Biology.
Ecologist Chris Stalling Oregon State University in Corvallis cautions that this is not the first study to document groupers and eels hunting together, but he acknowledges the signaling behavior that initiates the tag-team between the two fish is “novel and exciting.” Biologist Craig Packer of the University of Minnesota in St. Paul adds that the study shows that animals don't need big brains to cooperate.
Reef alliances: goat fish hunt in packs, while groupers team up with moray eels | Discover Magazine Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news In the Red Sea, a tiny fish has been cornered by a group of hunters working as a team.
After repeatedly snorkeling after the fish, Strain gradually learned that they have distinctive spots on their bodies and blue lines around their eyes. Eventually, she could tell 17 different individuals from one another, and she learned that they form surprisingly stable social networks.
Once the chaser drives its prey into coral crevices, the others act as blockers, swimming around to cut it off. Stagger has started to test captive goatfish, and he has duplicated the same coordinated hunts in the controlled conditions of a lab.
Until now, the most sophisticated example was an African elephant fish that flushes out its prey in tight formations, and communicates with one another using electric pulses. They’re the only known species of fish where different individuals assume specific roles, not unlike hunting wolves, lions or chimps.
In 2006, he described an equally remarkable alliance between two formidable predators: the giant moray eel and the roving coral grouper. http://youtu.be/2A7qqfJYXOc Share saw that the groupers would visit the morays in their resting places and vigorously shake their heads.
The signal is a call to arms, rousing the lazing morays to leave their crevices and swim off with the groupers. Share found that they were less likely to recruit morays if they’d just been fed, but more likely if they had just chased a prey fish into an inaccessible crevice.
The groupers lead the eels to a place where prey are hidden, and signal the right spot with more head-shaking; the morays investigate. When the moray dives in, the fish has two options: stay and be eaten by the eel, or flee and be picked off by the grouper.
For example, the goat fishes’ tactics could emerge from just one simple rule: stay around the prey but keep as much distance from the other group members as possible. Strain also points out that the chaser is the one that starts the pursuit, so it’s more likely to catch the prey in a straight chase.
Interspecific Communicative and Coordinated Hunting between Groupers and Giant Moray Eels in the Red Sea Los Biology, 4 (12) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040431 Here we report field observations from the Red Sea on the highly coordinated and communicative interspecific hunting between the grouper, Plectropomus pessuliferus, and the giant moray eel, Gymnothorax Granicus.
It was not long after first seeing Morays Eels on a dive and finding them incredibly creepy that I began to do some research. Many Eels are more active at night and during the day you will find them hiding amount rocks and corals.
The largest known species is the Giant Moray (Gymnothorax Granicus) which is very common throughout South-East Asia, and we meet them often on dives around NASA Oneida. These giants always remind me of the two Moray Eels, (Flotsam and Jetsam), that Ursula in ‘The Little Mermaid’ has as her pets.
Like the monster in Alien, morays attack their prey with a secret set of toothy biters. Inside their throat are a secondary pair of concealed pharyngeal jaws that help the eel capture its prey.
Whereas most predatory fish use suction to swallow their food, morays instead rely upon a different strategy. Next, their secondary set of chompers shoots forwards, bites onto unfortunate victim, and pulls it into the throat.
The Grouper is better skilled at speedy chases through open water so when they work together, their prey has nowhere to hide. To invite its Eel hunting assistant, the Grouper will first attract its attention with some ‘head banging’ movements.
They are very often mistaken as looking aggressive because they have the tendency to constantly open and close their mouth displaying their sharp teeth. Eels constantly open and close their moths to manually flush water through their gills.
It allows it to hunt easily over sand areas near coral reefs for small fish and crustaceans without fear. The Eel will have a long thin fin running the length of its body, whereas the snake will not.