A Damsel in Distress

That dark patch of water looks cool,

A perfect spot to just kick back.

Why is that rock starting to drool?

Please help me I’m under attack.

 

No choice but to swim for my life

From this cruel dusky dottyback!

Goodbye to my children and wife,

Please help me I’m under attack.

 

Its time now for my distress call,

Best warn all my damselfish pack.

I hope that I can reach them all,

Please help me I’m under attack.

 

My captor is reining me in,

She sees me as a tasty snack.

I’m secreting out of my skin:

Please help me I’m under attack.

 

Oh no, now this must be the end,

My outlook has turned awful black.

For dusky has now got a friend,

Please help me I’m under attack.

 

There’s three of them, now there are four;

I fear my willpower will crack.

Each time I look back there are more,

Please help me I’m under attack

 

Their numbers have blocked out the sun,

They really are starting to stack.

For how much longer can I run?

Please help me I’m under attack.

 

But suddenly I am alone,

Their presence beside me I lack.

I cut my call to a dull moan,

Please help me I’m under attack.

 

Caught up in a fight for a taste,

It seems they lost their hunting knack.

I screamed until I was blue-faced:

Please help me I’m under attack.

The Lemon damselfish (Photo Credit: Anders Poulsen, Deep Blue)
The Lemon damselfish (Photo Credit: Anders Poulsen, Deep Blue)

This is a Kyrielle, written about this recent piece of research, from scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies, who investigated the chemical ‘distress’ call that is released by damselfish when they are caught by predators. As well as warning other fish of the imminent danger, this also improves the damselfish’s own chance of survival, by attracting other predators to the area, which creates competition and increases their likelihood of escape.

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