The pilot fish – known as golden trevally – get their common name from their tendency to swim in the slipstream of larger predators, like sharks, in order to avoid being hunted by other fish.
Initially the shoal of a dozen trevally were introduced to a special shark cage at the Blue Reef Aquarium, Southsea, within the ocean display so they could acclimatise themselves to their new surroundings, and the resident sharks, before being fully released.
The juveniles, which currently measure just under 12in, could reach up to four feet when fully grown.
Hannah Butt, from Blue Reef, said: ‘As well as being beautifully marked, the golden trevally’s habit of closely shadowing the larger sharks makes them a fascinating species for visitors.
‘As they mature the fish will tend to pair off with a specific shark, or other large fish, and then follow them closely.
‘The sharks appear to be totally unconcerned by their presence, perhaps because they mistake them for a type of cleaner fish which removes parasites, or even because they may attract other potential prey to them,’ she added.
The golden trevally is widely distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
At the aquarium’s heart is a giant tropical ocean tank where an underwater walkthrough tunnel offers incredibly close encounters with a huge range of exotic coral reef species.
More than 40 naturally-themed displays reveal the wide variety of life in the deep from native sharks and rays to the cute otters and colourful reptiles and amphibians.
The Blue Reef Aquarium is on Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, and is open from 10am daily.
For more information call (023) 9287 5222. Go to bluereefaquarium.co.uk/portsmouth.
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