More fascinating facts about how admirable fish are: http://fishfeel.org/fintastic.php
WE ASSUMED FISH DIDN'T CARE ABOUT EACH OTHER. WE WERE WRONG.
Researchers Have Long Thought Fish Were Heartless And Cold, Incapable Of The
Relationships Mammals Cultivate, But New Research Among Fish In Coral Reefs
Suggests Fish Can Work In Long-Term Paired Relationships.
The Christian Science Monitor, Lucy Schouten, September 29, 2015
Fish living in the vast network of coral reefs near Australia are already known
to moviegoers for their devotion, thanks to the loving clownfish father-and-son
pair in Pixar's "Finding Nemo." But in reality, marine researchers have long
thought fish were a bit cold and self-centered. A recent study published Friday
indicates that their temperament is warming by a few degrees.
Clownfish like Marlin and Nemo do have a symbiotic relationship with anemones,
according to PBS, but another inhabitant of the coral reef – the rabbitfish --
shows the first-observed signs of what researchers call reciprocal cooperation.
This means one fish helps another, and the effort, no matter how small, is
Members of this coral reef fish species feed in pairs, according to a study
published at ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook
University in Australia. Rabbitfish couples have a symbiotic relationship, and
one member of the pair helps by keeping watch while the other fish eats.
Such behavior had not been seen or suspected in fish before, though it has been
studied with great success in some birds and mammal species, especially
primates, according to study authors Simon J. Brandl & David R. Bellwood from
the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. "There has been a
long-standing debate about whether reciprocal cooperation can exist in animals
that lack the highly developed cognitive and social skills found in humans and a
few species of birds and primates," said Dr. Simon Brandl in a press release.
Rabbitfish have been known to travel in schools, as many fish do, to maintain
safety in numbers. But researchers also observed that rabbitfish benefit from
the pair relationship -- those traveling in pairs are willing to dive deeper into
the crevices of the coral reef than those that swim alone. They also stick
around to finish their dinner, taking more bites of food at once than singles
Rabbitfish pairs seemed to have a system for standing -- or swimming -- guard, and
the same two fish stay together for some time. Researchers observed that one rabbitfish would forage head-down for food while the other would watch, head up.
The watcher would swim away -- probably fleeing from danger -- leading the forager
to follow, according to the study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
"In other words, one partner stays 'on guard' while the other feeds -- these
fishes literally watch each others' back," Dr. Brandl said.
The study's co-author said the study suggests that other fish of the ocean may
have greater social depth than had been thought. His hope is that more study
will soon follow to plumb the social mechanisms of ocean life. "Our findings
should further ignite efforts to understand fishes as highly developed organisms
with complex social behaviors," Dr. David Bellwood said in a press release.
"This may also require a shift in how we study and ethically treat fishes."
These aquatic creatures from Australia "really do look after their mates," the
"Dr. Brandl and his colleagues observed this form of cooperation in male-female
pairs and in same-sex pairs -- a sign that this is a complex social behavior. 'If
it occurred in only male-female pairs, it makes sense for the male to help out
the female to improve fertility,' Dr. Brandl said. But this behavior, he added,
is an example of reciprocal cooperation, more often seen in mammals like
chimpanzees and humans.":