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The research team from Germany, Italy, France and Spain observed the behaviour of five coastal fish species in three areas of the Mediterranean Sea -- within and outside areas protected to spearfishing. The field study involved simulating a harmless diver on the surface simply carrying fins, but no speargun, and divers carrying spearguns. The response of the fish strongly depended on the size of the fish, what type of diver was seen and whether the encounter was within or outside the protected area. "The more dangerous the situation, the stronger the behavioural response," states Dr. Valerio Sbragaglia, scientist in the Integrative Recreational Fisheries Management research group at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB).
The 'flight initiation distance' was used as behavioural indicator of fish timidity. This measure is defined as the distance a predator can approach a prey before the prey flees. Outside protected areas the large fish started fleeing if a diver with speargun approached at far distance from the water surface. "Large fish are typically preferred by spearfishers, and...
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