Squirt Gun Sharpshooter

Photo by Stephen Dalton/NATUREPL.COM

on January 1, 2018
Audio Version

A squirt gun’s not likely to put food on your table, but it keeps the archer fish well fed. It can even track a moving target, and it almost never misses.

This deadeye denizen of the deep (okay, not so deep) lurks just below the surface watching for a meal. When an unsuspecting insect lands on a nearby leaf, it pops it with a jet of water.


Photo by Stephen Dalton/NATUREPL.COM

And not just any jet. The archerfish shapes its ammunition to achieve maximum effect at the right range. The stream moves faster at the back than at the front. The faster-moving water overtakes the slower stream in front and piles up into a glob that smacks its target right off its perch, up to 6 feet (2 m) away.

On top of that, with its eyes underwater and its target above, this eagle-eye sharpshooter adjusts its aim to compensate for refraction. Researchers have recently discovered archerfish shape their aquatic ammunition to hunt underwater as well.

Before Adam’s sin, all animals ate plants, but even in a fallen world, God displays his care and provision in infinitely creative ways—like this watery William Tell with a squirt gun.

This article was originally published in Answers magazine, January–February 2018, p. 26.