To knot or not? Novel feeding behaviours in moray eels
- 296 Downloads
We report observations of a novel feeding behaviour in the moray eel Gymnothorax favagineus (Bloch & Schneider, 1801) and a previously undocumented application of “knotting” behaviour in G. fimbriatus (Bennett, 1832). Moray eels were filmed by baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS) at the Scott Reefs, a remote group of atoll-like reefs on the edge of the continental shelf in tropical, northwestern Australia. Two behaviours were observed as the moray eels tried to dislodge food from a bait bag: (1) G. favagineus used its tail as a “paddle” to gain leverage on the bag, and (2) G. fimbriatus tied a knot in its tail in order to extract food from the bag. Our observations suggest that morays have an extensive behavioural repertoire for manipulating and extracting large prey items from the interstices of the reefs where they typically hunt.
KeywordsGymnothorax Feeding Coral reef Knotting Baited remote underwater video systems BRUVS
We would like to thank the Australian Institute of Marine Science for the use of its research vessel, the RV Solander, and for the support of its crew. We also acknowledge the Department of Fisheries, the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities for arranging permits to conduct research at the Scott Reefs. Experimental protocols were approved by the University of Western Australia’s Animal Ethics Committee (RA3/100/1279, RA3/100/1172), and were carried out in accordance with the approved guidelines.
(MP4 207673 kb)
(MP4 43012 kb)
- Böhlke EB, McCosker JE, Böhlke JE (1989) Fishes of the Western North Atlantic. The Yale Peabody Museum. Yale University, New HavenGoogle Scholar
- Helfman G (1990) Mode selection and mode switching in foraging animals. In: Slater P, Rosenblatt J, Beer C (eds) Advances in the study of behavior, vol 19. Academic, San Diego, pp 249–290Google Scholar
- Mehta RS, Ward AB, Alfaro ME, Wainwright PC (2010) Elongation of the body in eels. Integr Comp Biol 1091–1105Google Scholar
- Parrish JD, Norris JE, Callahan MW et al (1986) Piscivory in a coral reef fish community. In: Simonstad CA, Cailliet GM (eds) Contemporary Studies on Fish Feeding: the Proceedings of the Gutshop, 1984. Dev Environ Biol Fish 7:285–298Google Scholar
- Smith DG (2012) A checklist of the moray eels of the world. Zootaxa 3474:1–64Google Scholar