"Some behavioral traits that we think are very human, such as deception, fish have as well… "
Dr Kevin Warburton, who studies freshwater fish behavior, wants to dispel some myths about fish.
Some think fish only have a short memory span, and others don’t realize that fish can be very deceptive.
Fish can fool others so they can literally get more clients.
He’s looked at a type of fish that’s in a mutually beneficial arrangement with other fish. It’s a "cleaner fish" that lives in coral reefs and removes parasites from larger fish called "clients." Dr. Warburton said:
"But what’s fascinating is that they co-operate more with clients when they are being observed by other potential clients. This improves their ‘image’ and their chances of attracting clients. Some cleaners co-operate with small clients to raise their image so as to deceive larger clients, which they then cheat on by biting them rather than removing their parasites."
The fish get clients, then, through a kind of fraud.
Dr Warburton is an adjunct researcher with Charles Sturt University’s Institute for Land, Water and Society in Albury, New South Wales, Australia.
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