To study the fishing behaviour of Myotis capaccinii, we performed an experiment in a flight tent containing an artificial pond. We recorded the behaviour of two groups of bats — eight individuals from two different roosts — using IR video camcorders and ultrasound detectors, and evaluated diet by analyzing faeces. Nightly, increasing amounts of fish were released in the pond. Our data show that M. capaccinii is able to exhibit fishing behaviour when fish occur in high densities in shallow waters, gaffing live fish from the water using their hind feet. They were attracted neither by dead fish floating, nor by ripples made by fishes feeding on the water surface. Bats showed a specific fishing behaviour with two main foraging patterns: A) long series of circular flights, skimming along the water and dipping in softly twice or three times in each roundabout; B) long figure-eight loops with bats flying faster and higher, swooping down on the centre of the pond, where they snapped their hind feet hard into the water. Compared with the echolocation calls used to catch insects from the water's surface in the wild, terminal buzzes were incomplete during the dips made to fish. Buzz II were always lacking, and buzz I had much longer inter-pulse intervals. This suggests that they were not pursuing specific targets but dipping randomly. We propose a scenario in which fishing behaviour occurs in the wild, linked to the seasonal drought of small ponds, marshes, or channels where large numbers of small fish become readily available and thus a profitable resource.
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