Early this morning I saw an interesting sign in the water, a clue that fish were trying to defy a predator.
At about 6am, I sailed to a spot off East Head, a nature reserve in Chichester Harbour. I anchored and spent about an hour studying patterns in the sky, coast and the sea. Suddenly there was a worrying sound behind me, it sounded like a hundred small waves breaking. It was alarming because it was the sort of of sound that made me think the anchor must have dragged and I was about to blown onto a lee shore.
When I turned round I saw that there was a large patch of water that was alive with hundreds of small splashes. It happened another four or five times on different sides of the boat.
I’m familiar with a few fish tactics for evading predators – including ‘bait balls’ and the flying fish I’ve seen many times in the Atlantic; they use fins as wings to glide impressive distances above the water to escape predators. (I was once hit in the face by one in the middle of the night when sailing singlehanded.)
The patterns and sounds in the water that morning were different to both of these behaviours, but did make me think that a school of small fish had sensed a larger predator nearby.
Soon word was being passed along the boats that had anchored nearby – a dolphin had been spotted!
I didn’t get to see the dolphin itself, but the sign in the water was almost as beautiful.
You might also enjoy:
How to Read Water – The Book