The fox froze. Inches from his paws, frenzied, spawning carp writhed within the shallow water alongside a reservoir’s shore. In a sudden flash of motion, the fox dove nose-first into the water, rising with a big carp wriggling in his mouth.
In March 2016, two researchers in Spain watched as a male pink fox (Vulpes vulpes) stalked and caught 10 carp over a few hours. The occasion, described in a research printed August 18 in Ecology, appears to be the primary recorded occasion of a fox fishing, the researchers say. The invention makes pink foxes simply the second sort of canid — the group that features wolves and canines — identified to hunt fish.
“Seeing the fox searching carp one after one other was unbelievable,” says ecologist Jorge Tobajas of the College of Córdoba. “We now have been learning this species for years, however we by no means anticipated one thing like this.”
Tobajas and his colleague Francisco Díaz-Ruiz of the College of Málaga stumbled throughout the fishing fox whereas surveying a web site for a unique challenge. The fox first caught their consideration as a result of it didn’t instantly flee when it noticed the researchers. Seizing the chance, Tobajas and Díaz-Ruiz determined to cover close by and see what the fox was as much as.
Their curiosity changed into pleasure after the fox caught its first fish. “Probably the most stunning factor was to see how the fox hunted many carp with out making any errors,” Tobajas says. “This made us notice that it was absolutely not the primary time he had finished it.”
As a substitute of instantly guzzling down the entire fish, the fox hid most of its catch and appeared to share a minimum of one fish with a feminine fox, presumably its mate.
Fish stays have been noticed within the scat of foxes earlier than. However scientists weren’t certain whether or not foxes had caught the fish themselves or have been merely scavenging useless fish. This analysis confirms that some foxes fish for his or her meals, says Thomas Gable, a wildlife ecologist on the College of Minnesota in Minneapolis who wasn’t concerned within the analysis.
“I’d be shocked if this was the one fox to have realized the way to fish,” Gable says.
Wolves residing on the Pacific coast of North America and in Minnesota are the one different canids identified to fish (SN: 2/11/20). The truth that two canid species residing on separate continents each fish opens the likelihood that the conduct is perhaps extra widespread than beforehand thought, Gable says.
For Tobajas, the fishing fox is an instance of how a lot scientists nonetheless don’t know in regards to the pure world, even for species that dwell pretty shut with people. “The pink fox is a quite common species and is in lots of instances a bit hated,” he says. Foxes generally assault pets or livestock and are thought-about a pest in lots of locations. However “observations like this present us that it an enchanting and really clever animal.”