European Catfish or ‘Freshwater Killer Whales’ Caught Hunting Pigeons Near Shore [VIDEO]

First Posted: Dec 07, 2012 01:59 PM EST

European Catfish or "freshwater killer whales" have been spotted in south-west France as the leaped from a river to gobble up the unsuspecting pigeons and it was caught on video, according to reports.

A group of catfish in southwest France have learned how to hunt pigeons. Researchers agree that the bizarre hunting techniques were formed as a result of not being able to find their normal prey in their current ecosystem.

In the video below, these "freshwater killer whales" are seen lying in ambush until their prey comes close enough for them to grab them.

"The behavioral strategies developed by predators to capture and kill their prey are fascinating, notably for predators that forage for prey at, or beyond, the boundaries of their ecosystem," according to Discover Magazine's "Not Exactly Rocket Science" blog.

The European catfish is the largest freshwater whale in Europe and grow up to 60 inches long. They have to be quick in getting the birds as they are not able to breathe on land. Discover Magazine notes that the fish temporarily stand themselves when they hunt pigeons but they are able to wiggle themselves back into the water with their prey.

The European catfish are native to Eastern Europe. They were introduced by anglers to the Tarn River in Southwestern France in the 1980s. They have only recently developed the habit of pouncing on unsuspecting pigeons hanging out by the water.

Over the period that researchers observed the interesting hunting techniques, they noted 54 beaching incidents, in which the catfish managed to snap up a bird 28 per cent of the time.

Researchers believe the fresh killer whales use water vibrations to hunt rather than visual cues as they only attacked pigeons that were moving and not the passive ones nearby.

The findings were reported on Thursday in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.

Watch the "freshwater killer whale" catch unsuspecting pigeons in the vide below:

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