Sunday, March 27, 2011

Peer pressure saves the lives of fish

Big schools of fish make better decisions than small schools of fish. Less smoking, less risky sex, and no flirting with predators.

How can this be? Is it more likely that big schools have some super-smart fish that help the group? Or is it just that numbers are helpful? If you've ever watched the behavior of fish schools being chased, you'll probably guess the answer, it's group behavior that helps individual fish survive.

Watch these videos (below) and other you can find online for "super-organism" behavior where fish schools look like one giant creature swooping and swirling.

If I remember right, the great oceanographer John McIsaac once theorized from physical principles that a fish school could function like a lens focusing sound so that the fish could detect predators better in a swarm.

hat tip: Deep Blue Home

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