We know birds like to hunt fish, but have you ever seen a fish eat a bird? A group of catfish in southwest France were spotted leaping from a river to snap up unsuspecting pigeons.
The Daily Mail reports how once the fish caught the birds, they wriggled back beneath the water to swallow them.
The unusual behaviour, which is similar to the way some marina mammals beach themselves to snap up prey from the shore, has never been seen among catfish in their native range.
Researchers at the University of Toulouse, who are investigating the 'fishy' behaviour, have dubbed the catfish 'freshwater killer whales'.
European catfish are between 1m and 1.5m long, and are the largest freshwater fish on the continent, as well as the third largest in the world.
Most catfish feed on aquatic plants, other fish, decaying vegetation, fish eggs, crayfish, aquatic bug and minnows, but in the Tarn River, where they were introduced in the early 80s, the fish seem to have adapted their natural behaviour to capture prey in their new environment.
Researchers spent five months watching the catfish from a bridge over a small gravel island, where the Tarn passes through the city centre of Albi, an ancient town about 50 miles from Toulouse.
During this period, they saw 54 breaching incidents, in which the catfish managed to snap up a bird 28 per cent of the time, dragging it back into the water to gobble it up.
The breaching was recorded as quick, lasting from less than a second to no more than four seconds, and in around 40 per cent of the cases, the fish lunged so far from the water that more than half their bodies were exposed.
The study highlighted that the fish are used to water vibrations when hunting rather than visual cues, as they only went for the pigeons which moved.
Catfish are named for the long, sensitive whiskers around their mouths.
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