Young eels escape from the mouths of fish by wriggling out the gills

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eel

A young Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica)

Nature Production / naturepl.com

Eels really are slippery customers. Juvenile eels captured by fish can escape by wriggling backwards through the predators’ gills. This unique behaviour, never seen before, has been filmed by Yuuki Kawabata at Nagasaki University in Japan and his colleagues.

The researchers originally planned to study the predator escape behaviour of juvenile Japanese eels (Anguilla japonica). However, in the initial experiments, team member Yuha Hasegawa noticed that juvenile eels he had filmed being captured by dark sleeper fish (Odontobutis obscura) were somehow swimming around …

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