A researcher from Paul Sabatier University, Julien Cucherousset, heard from local fisherman that in River Tarn of Southwestern France catfish hunt pigeons in addition to other prey. He and his team set up cameras to capture the amazing predator in action.
A group of catfish in River Tarn are seen swimming close to a flock of pigeons on land. When a catfish gets close enough, it lunges forward to grab the bird’s neck and drag it back to the water to swallow its meal.
“These particular catfish have taken to lunging out of the water, grabbing a pigeon, and then wriggling back into the water to swallow their prey,” the researchers wrote in their study. “In the process, they temporarily strand themselves on land for a few seconds.”
The hunting footage is so fierce that the researcher dubbed the carnivorous catfish as “freshwater killer whales,” after killer whales in Argentina that swim close to shore and snatch sea lions on the beach.
The predatory fish in question are Wels catfish (Silurus galanis). They can grow up to 2.49 m (8 ft 2 in) long and can weigh up to 89 kg (200 lb), so they could potentially go after even larger prey than pigeons.
11 Year old Jessica Wanstall of Sittingbourne, Kent, on vacation with her father in Spain, set a new world record for a freshwater fish caught by an angler aged 16 and under, by landing a nearly 9′ (2.74 m), 13 stone 8lb (193lb – 87.7 k) Wels catfish (Silurus glanis) from the Ebro River. The catfish was considerably larger than the young angler, but was defeated in 20 minutes.