Journal Article

Waves of agitation inside anchovy schools observed with multibeam sonar: a way to transmit information in response to predation

François Gerlotto, Sophie Bertrand, Nicolas Bez and Mariano Gutierrez

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 63, issue 8, pages 1405-1417
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.icesjms.2006.04.023
Waves of agitation inside anchovy schools observed with multibeam sonar: a way to transmit information in response to predation

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Most pelagic fish live in schools. To allow fast reactions, for instance to predator attacks, these collective structures require behavioural mechanisms authorizing fast, coordinated movements. Considering the large number of individuals constituting a school of small pelagic fish, a crucial premise to coordinated movements and school reorganization is an ability to transfer quickly and efficiently information across the whole collective structure. We observed anchovy school movements and reactions to sea-lion attacks while the ship was drifting in Peruvian waters. The main process of information transfer we could observe was that of waves of agitation crossing large anchovy schools. The average speed of these waves (7.45 m s−1) was much greater than the average 0.3 m s−1 school speeds measured during this experiment. The internal organization of each school modified dramatically after the waves of agitation had crossed them. Changes in school external morphology and internal structure were described and measured using geostatistics. Our results show that information transfer is a crucial process for the cohesion and plasticity of schools. As such, it allows efficient reactions of schools of pelagic fish to variations in their immediate environment in general, and to predation in particular.

Keywords: anchovy; communication; fish behaviour; pelagic; predation; schooling; sea lions

Journal Article.  7203 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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