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Noodling for pigeons
December 6, 2012 10:21 PM   Subscribe

Some catfish have learnt a new trick [original paper] since being introduced to a French river around 30 years ago: they can beach themselves to hunt pigeons along the river bank. These catfish were around 90-150 cm (about three to five feet) long, but there are many species, some of which can be much larger. But you're probably safe from these. [previously]
posted by Joe in Australia (35 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
This completely credible anecdote from the IO9 report on the story is worth quoting:
My buddy told me this, so I know it is true. He and another guy are trolling along a bluff line on Table Rock Lake. Up ahead is a rock sticking out of the water, about 10 yards off shore. A tree limb is hanging over it, with a squirrel running up & down the limb. There is a walnut on the rock & he wants it. Finally, we leaps to the rock and gets the nut. But he can not jump back to the limb, it is too high. So, he jumps in & starts swimming. Suddenly, there is a huge swirl & splashing....and the squirrel is gone! They are both amazed by what they just saw. And after they pass the rock, they look back to see a big flathead catfish flopping out of the water, onto the rock, and place a walnut on the rock.
I really like how he works "trolling along a bluff line" into his anecdote.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:22 PM on December 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


video youtub or it no no is happening
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:23 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a Youtube video about halfway down the first link.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:28 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait a minute! Where did a catfish get a walnut?
posted by figurant at 10:42 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Joe in Australia I apologize. I watched that video three times now. It is insane. I guess that is why they are called catfish. Yes, ha ha, everyone laugh.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:43 PM on December 6, 2012


This is so not kosher.
posted by maryr at 10:55 PM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


She remembered the alcohol stove, cold winter mornings, the old man hunched in his big gray coat. Winters he'd put a second layer of plastic over the windows. The stove was enough to heat the place, then, because the walls were covered with sheets of hard foam, and chipboard over that. Places where the foam showed, you could pick at it with your finger, make holes; if he caught you doing it, he'd yell. Keeping the fish warm in cold weather was more work; you had to pump water up to the roof, where the sun mirrors were, into these clear plastic tubes. But the vegetable stuff rotting on the tank ledges helped, too; steam rose off when you went to net a fish. He traded the fish for other kinds of food, for things people grew, stove alcohol and the drinking kind, coffee beans, garbage the fish ate.
posted by 7segment at 11:03 PM on December 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


At least they aren't driving cars.











yet.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:04 PM on December 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


We've got to get the dogs trained up first, then the cats, THEN the catfish.
posted by maryr at 11:07 PM on December 6, 2012


This is so not kosher.

There are Jewish catfish?
posted by JHarris at 11:11 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Life is a remarkable place.
posted by Kit W at 11:42 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the internet one can ask both "Can my dog eat a cat-fish?" and "Did a catfish eat my dog?"
posted by rongorongo at 12:05 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait a minute! Where did a catfish get a walnut?

From the squirrel. Did you not read the story?
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:12 AM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Octopi do it too.
posted by Malor at 12:33 AM on December 7, 2012


Wasn't the walnut thing in Ice Age 3?
posted by Segundus at 12:55 AM on December 7, 2012


Octopuses.

Sorry Malor. I have a minor obsession with that one. :-)
posted by Decani at 1:09 AM on December 7, 2012


I thought it was octopodes?

I want it to be octopodes.
posted by Kit W at 1:20 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


OED says octopodes, and since they invented English ...
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:23 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want it to be octopodes.

They're the tiny killer blue ringed ones in Australia. Octopodes from the Antipodes.
posted by Elmore at 1:23 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fish sit around at the end of the day and tell stories about the Big One that flew away.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:35 AM on December 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


Octopodes from the Antipodes.

Arre you telling me a single point on a globe is an antipus?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:40 AM on December 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


The European catfish is an alien, introduced into the Tarn in 1983, and currently flourishing there. Is it possible that these invaders have eaten too many local fish and are forced to seek sustenance elsewhere? Does this explain why it seems to be the smaller catfish that go after pigeons? Or is it that the smaller individuals are less likely to be permanently stranded on shore, or expend less energy in wiggling back into the water? Why, essentially, is a bird in the mouth worth being a fish out of water?

I bet it's that Chick-Fil-A "Eat more Chicken" billboard that did it. Catfish are also very susceptible to roadside advertising.
posted by three blind mice at 2:50 AM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


"That'll larn ya to call me a bottomfeeder."
posted by drlith at 3:13 AM on December 7, 2012


These are the European catfish called wels, but all catfish hunt mainly by sense of smell. Their eyesight is really good but their whiskers are for short distance sensing in dirty murky water. But when it comes to smell and taste catfish can smell a meal over a mile away. Their skin acts like a giant tongue tasting the water, their nose is incredibly sensitive to aromas in water.

So take a nice tasty pigeon, with wonderfully stinky pigeon poo-encrusted feet, and encourage it and its friends to splash happily in the water on the banks. For a catfish this is the equivalent of the discovery that pizza can be delivered to your house.
posted by zaelic at 3:19 AM on December 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


three blind mice: "I bet it's that Chick-Fil-A "Eat more Chicken" billboard that did it. Catfish are also very susceptible to roadside advertising"

"Eat Mor Chikin" Sorry three blind mice, I have a minor obsession with that one. :-)

More seriously, Chik-fil-a can go to hell, and even more seriously, thanks a lot Joe in Australia for somehow causing me to look up Mekong catfish, read about the Mekong River, and then spend the last 15 minutes on Google maps, switching between "satellite" and "terrain", following the path of the Mekong/Lancang river up to somewhere called "Qulongka" somewhere near India and I thought to myself, "what the hell are you doing?"
posted by Red Loop at 4:05 AM on December 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sounds like France should introduce the "southern US catfish noodler" into the ecosystem to help control this invasive species.
posted by orme at 4:29 AM on December 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe I shouldn't show this to my corys; they might get ideas.
posted by scruss at 4:32 AM on December 7, 2012


I swear H.P. Lovecraft was menaced by a catfish when he was a kid. Only explanation for his stories.

Every time I look at a cat I marvel how anything that ugly and downright evil can be that tasty.
posted by middleclasstool at 4:32 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Animal Planet's "River Monsters" is a highly entertaining show that has featured a number of man-killer catfish, both giant and small. It's basically a catch-and-release recreational fishing show, only in the farthest reaches of the globe, and featuring animals that can kill a fisherman right back. After watching two seasons, this pigeon-snacking behavior isn't surprising.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:56 AM on December 7, 2012


Nature. It's pissed.
posted by tommasz at 5:23 AM on December 7, 2012


At least they aren't driving cars.

No, but the birds are.
posted by briank at 6:13 AM on December 7, 2012


Only a matter of time before they develop feet and lung sacs.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:15 AM on December 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


figurant: Wait a minute! Where did a catfish get a walnut?
They float when they fall in. That's hardly the unlikely part.

/Or was that the joke? I can be so dense.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:14 PM on December 7, 2012


Tell Me No Lies: Only a matter of time before they develop feet and lung sacs.
You rang?
posted by IAmBroom at 1:18 PM on December 7, 2012


Aaaaaah!
posted by subdee at 9:31 PM on December 7, 2012


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