These Fish Look Like They're Casting Spells

When you think about mechanisms that animals use to avoid becoming dinner, clever adaptations like poisons or pointy spikes come to mind. But the Ostracod, a type of zooplankton, uses something a little more magical.


To avoid being eaten by a Cardinal fish, they excrete a sudden blast of luminescent chemicals that act almost like a personal safety alarm. The Cardinal fish has predators of its own its trying to avoid, so when an Ostracod its trying to eat suddenly bursts into light, it immediately spits it out and backs away so as to remain hidden in the dark murky depths. It's like the Ostracod is screaming for help, but relying on the knowledge that whatever comes to see what's going on, will be more interested in eating its attacker. [BBC via Notcot]

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Anybody else a bit skeptical?

It all happens so fast, it's hard to believe that the predatory fish is spitting it out because it can see the light emanating from its own body, from the ostracod, and decided it was dangerous. It would be more plausible if the chemicals released by the ostracod tasted really bad or induced some sort of vomit...

The giggly researcher doesn't inspire too much confidence, either.