To capture its dinner, the needlefish can launch a sneak attack that comes from above the water’s surface, scientists have discovered.
The needlefish’s newly-discovered ability makes it the first known fish to leap out of water and divebomb its quarry from above, similar to its cousin’s strategy: the flying fish.
The unique strategy was observed by scientists off the coast of Queensland, Australia, where the sleek sharp-toothed fish was seen hurling itself out of the water before plunging into a school of its prey. Scientists believe the approach allows the needlefish to catch its victims off guard, whereas approaching its potential meal entirely from underwater would give it more time to escape.
Needlefish, which primarily live and hunt close to the oceans surface, have been observed to leap out of the sea to escape predators at high speed, sometimes even colliding with an unlucky person.
Other fish have also been observed to jump out of the water to catch flying birds or bugs or to evade predators, although the needlefish is still the only known one of its kind to jump out of the water to hunt submerged prey.