Not so fast: swimming behavior of sailfish during predator-prey interactions using high-speed video and accelerometry

Marras, Stefano, Noda, Takuji, Steffensen, John F., Svendsen, Morten B. S., Krause, Jens, Wilson, Alexander D. M., Kurvers, Ralf H. J. M., Herbert-Read, James, Boswell, Kevin M. and Domenici, Paolo 2015, Not so fast: swimming behavior of sailfish during predator-prey interactions using high-speed video and accelerometry, Integrative and comparative biology, vol. 55, no. 4, pp. 719-727, doi: 10.1093/icb/icv017.

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Title Not so fast: swimming behavior of sailfish during predator-prey interactions using high-speed video and accelerometry
Author(s) Marras, Stefano
Noda, Takuji
Steffensen, John F.
Svendsen, Morten B. S.
Krause, Jens
Wilson, Alexander D. M.
Kurvers, Ralf H. J. M.
Herbert-Read, James
Boswell, Kevin M.
Domenici, Paolo
Journal name Integrative and comparative biology
Volume number 55
Issue number 4
Start page 719
End page 727
Total pages 9
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place of publication Oxford, Eng.
Publication date 2015-10
ISSN 1557-7023
Summary Billfishes are considered among the fastest swimmers in the oceans. Despite early estimates of extremely high speeds, more recent work showed that these predators (e.g., blue marlin) spend most of their time swimming slowly, rarely exceeding 2 m s(-1). Predator-prey interactions provide a context within which one may expect maximal speeds both by predators and prey. Beyond speed, however, an important component determining the outcome of predator-prey encounters is unsteady swimming (i.e., turning and accelerating). Although large predators are faster than their small prey, the latter show higher performance in unsteady swimming. To contrast the evading behaviors of their highly maneuverable prey, sailfish and other large aquatic predators possess morphological adaptations, such as elongated bills, which can be moved more rapidly than the whole body itself, facilitating capture of the prey. Therefore, it is an open question whether such supposedly very fast swimmers do use high-speed bursts when feeding on evasive prey, in addition to using their bill for slashing prey. Here, we measured the swimming behavior of sailfish by using high-frequency accelerometry and high-speed video observations during predator-prey interactions. These measurements allowed analyses of tail beat frequencies to estimate swimming speeds. Our results suggest that sailfish burst at speeds of about 7 m s(-1) and do not exceed swimming speeds of 10 m s(-1) during predator-prey interactions. These speeds are much lower than previous estimates. In addition, the oscillations of the bill during swimming with, and without, extension of the dorsal fin (i.e., the sail) were measured. We suggest that extension of the dorsal fin may allow sailfish to improve the control of the bill and minimize its yaw, hence preventing disturbance of the prey. Therefore, sailfish, like other large predators, may rely mainly on accuracy of movement and the use of the extensions of their bodies, rather than resorting to top speeds when hunting evasive prey.
Language eng
DOI 10.1093/icb/icv017
Field of Research 0608 Zoology
060807 Animal Structure and Function
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, Oxford University Press
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Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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