The mangrove swamps of Sri Lanka provide “vital nurseries for young fish. One mangrove specialist, the archer fish, has developed an extraordinary way of getting a bite to eat.”
 
Watch this video, from the Nat Geo WILD series “Destination Wild,” to see Sri Lanka’s amazing archers in action. Check out the other tabs to learn more about them and the mangrove ecosystems in which they’re found.
  1. Why are the root systems of Sri Lanka’s mangrove forest an ideal underwater nursery for archer fish and other aquatic organisms?

  2. The “Destination Wild” video shows how aquatic creatures thrive in mangrove swamps. What terrestrial creatures—animals that live primarily on land—inhabit this ecosystem?

  3. How do you think the shape and coloring of an archer fish allows it to “sneak up” on prey?

  4. Some biologists think that the archer fish uses water as a tool to target prey. What other animals use tools for hunting?

  • There are only seven species of archer fish in the world.
 
  • All archer fish are native to coastal waters of Southeast Asia, Australia, and Oceania.
 
  • Archer fish can live in freshwater, saltwater, and brackish water.
 
  • During archer fish “shooting parties,” several fish shoot at a single prey—and then scramble to recover it when an archer in their party knocks it over.
 
  • An archer fish is just as likely to leap out of the water to grab an insect in its mouth as it is to “take aim” from below the surface.
aquatic
Adjective

having to do with water.

array
Noun

large group.

Noun

all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

brackish water
Noun

salty water, usually a mixture of seawater and freshwater.

camouflage
Verb

to hide or disguise by blending in to surroundings. Also called cryptic coloration.

Noun

edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

dappled
Adjective

spotted, or having areas of differently colored shades or tones.

dense
Adjective

having parts or molecules that are packed closely together.

Noun

community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

Noun

organism threatened with extinction.

first-order consumer
Noun

in a food chain or food web, an organism that eats (consumes) a producer. First-order consumers are usually herbivores.

Noun

all related food chains in an ecosystem. Also called a food cycle.

forest
Noun

ecosystem filled with trees and underbrush.

freshwater
Adjective

having to do with a habitat or ecosystem of a lake, river, or spring.

Noun

environment where an organism lives throughout the year or for shorter periods of time.

high tide
Noun

water level that has risen as a result of the moon's gravitational pull on the Earth.

laterally compressed
Adjective

flattened from side-to-side, or appearing normally from the side but unusually thin and narrow from above or below.

mangrove
Noun

type of tree or shrub with long, thick roots that grows in salty water.

nursery
Noun

place where young animals are cared for.

predator
Noun

animal that hunts other animals for food.

prey
Noun

animal that is hunted and eaten by other animals.

primate
Noun

type of mammal, including humans, apes, and monkeys.

root system
Noun

all of a plant's roots.

saltwater swamp
Noun

wooded area near a tidal basin or a protected ocean shore that is partially flooded with seawater for most of the year.

Noun

abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm. Also called a storm tide.

Noun

land permanently saturated with water and sometimes covered with it.

terrestrial
Adjective

having to do with the Earth or dry land.

tool
Noun

instrument used to help in the performance of a task.

tsunami
Noun

ocean waves triggered by an earthquake, volcano, or other movement of the ocean floor.