Hypnotic Video of Striped Eel Catfish Walking in Unison Across the Ocean Floor

In a stunning example of group defense, a huge mass of juvenile striped eel catfish move as one to fend off predators. A video taken by Marie-Laure Vergne, an instructor at the  Abyss Dive Center Bali, shows these youngsters as they move across the ocean floor. Undulating in a mass, their movements are mesmerizing.

As adults, the striped eel catfish is highly venomous and can inflict real pain. But while they're still growing, the full power of their venom hasn't set in. “The young ones can only produce a mild version of the venom, tingling the fingers of the people putting their hands in the school (which we don’t recommend you do!),” writes the Abyss Dive Center Bali.

With this information in hand, it makes sense that they're ganging up and make sure the entire group is safe rather than taking on predators alone. Together, the move as one and make for a formidable opponent. If you look closely at the video, you'll notice that the individual fish aren't static. Instead, they each move up and down as the mass moves forward—almost like a waterfall of catfish. As each fish hits the sand, their barbed faces look like little feet scurrying along.

Schools of young striped eel catfish can reach up to 100 individuals. As they get older, they'll then move into a more solitary lifestyle. These fish typically stay to themselves or, at most, live in a group of up to 20. They spend their days hiding under ledges and stirring up sand to find crustaceans, mollusks, and worms. But until then, they can enjoy this time together with their peers, flowing through the water and warding off anyone who dares get in their way.

Abyss Dive Center Bali: Website | Facebook | Instagram
h/t: [Kottke]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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