Fish Uses Tool


Humans had long thought they were the only species capable of using tools.  Then in the 1960s, Jane Goodall observed chimpanzees using them.  Later birds were seen as tool users.  Now, thanks to UCSC university professor Giacomo Bernardi, fish can be seen utilizing this skill.  His findings were published in the journal Coral Reefs.

The video below shows an orange-dotted tuskfish digging in the sand for a clam, then carrying the shell fish in his mouth for quite a distance looking for a rock large enough to toss the clam and break it. “The fish is planning the whole action. It’s really interesting,” states Bernardi.  “The fish is doing a number of really complex things.”

“When Goodall reported that chimpanzees use tools it was a huge revolution in behavioral science,” Bernardi said in Mercury “People didn’t believe her right away, and then they assumed that probably only very advanced vertebrates use tools. Then they saw it in birds and other animals. A lot of people think fishes don’t do all that much, but if you spend enough time with fishes you’ll see that they do very sophisticated things.”

The ability of humans to observe primates in their natural habitat is a bit simpler than trying to observe sea creatures underwater.  Thanks to professor Bernardi for documenting this amazing video.  He filmed it on an island nation named Palau which is north of New Zealand.  There have been reports of fish using tools for a number of years but this is the first time a video has documented tool-using behavior in a fish.

Tuskfish are part of the wrasse species of fish.  “Wrasses are very inquisitive, very smart fishes,” says Bernardi.  “Their brain is very particularly developed. It is carnivorous and has a keen sense of smell and vision.”  Wrasses can be found in tropical and temperate waters throughout the world.


Related Stories:

Meet Jane Goodall!

Speak out for Fish & Corals Who Can’t

Surfer Saves Great White Shark

Photo of red tailed wrasse by USFWS Pacific via Flickr


Cosmic Sky
Cosmic P.1 years ago


Jutta Suthau
Jutta Suthau2 years ago

Very interesting!

Anita D.
Anita D.3 years ago

Humans make the rules, and claim all traits that humans value as being the highest/most valuable traits. It's circular reasoning, and self-congratulating. How can any other species compete when we design the game, and act as final arbitor of the outcome? Thus assuring our continuued success at always winnning at our own games. This short-sighted audacity of our enduring hubris would be laughable, if it weren't, in truth, so tragic. For we may win our own human created games, but what have we actually won as we stand around watching ourselves desecrating the precious Earth?!?.

Diana W.
Diana W.4 years ago

Fun video!
Thanks for sharing this find.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran4 years ago


New G.
W. C.4 years ago


Carole R.
Carole R.4 years ago

Wow ... how amazing.

Christina B.
Christina B.4 years ago

Well, I was impressed.

Bill K.
Bill K.4 years ago

i had a high opinion of the intelligence of fish long before this. i consider fish friends, not food.

Carrie Anne Brown

interesting article and video thanks for sharing :)