27 Incredible Underwater Pictures of Schooling Fish

Published February 5, 2015
Updated October 25, 2019

As these incredible images show, schooling fish are one of the world's most incredible natural phenomena.

Like starling murmurations, schooling fish are one of the world’s most wondrous natural phenomena. Not to be confused with shoaling fish (which refers to fish who gather to swim together socially), schooling fish are defined as a large group of fish that swim synchronously.

Swimming in a school allows fish to protect themselves from predators, improve foraging, and swim more efficiently. While scientists are still working to better understand fish schooling, experiments over the past few decades have provided much information about how (and why) fishes form schools.

For one, schooling is most likely a genetic behavior.

In fact, a combination of behavioral traits and unique sensory abilities allow fish to move fluidly and in sync with the school. While schooling fish make moving in perfect time look easy, there are various factors that the fish must instantaneously account for; the fish must quickly respond to water currents and react instantly to changes within the group. Scientists have discovered that fish base their decisions on a synthesis of where all the fish in its field of view are headed, instead of following its nearest neighbors.

Check out these 27 pictures of the incredible phenomenon:

School of Bannerfish
Source: Wikimedia

Black and White School of Fish
Source: KPLU

School of Blue Jack Mackerel
Source: Wired

Fish Schooling Near Diver
Source: Flickr

Diving School of Fish
Source: Sport Diver

School of Forage Fish
Source: Wikipedia

Incredible School of Fish

School of Fish Swim in Unison
Source: BU

Sunlight through School of Fish
Source: Gallery Hip

Natural Phenomenon Fish Schooling
Source: ATS

Shark in School of Fish
Source: Zero Hedge

Shoaling Fish
Source: Cinder

Swarms of Fish Around Diver
Source: Capital Bay

Teardrop Schooling Fish
Source: Pinterest

Huge Fish Swims Through School of Fish
Source: Wikipedia

Tunnel of Schooling Fish
Source: Wodu

Up Close School of Fish
Source: Flickr

By examining both a fish's tendency to school and its ability to school, scientists have found that schooling is associated with different genomic regions. Usually fish shoal and school with members of the same species who are similar in size and coloring. Check out this school of jack tuna (aka bigeye trevally) in motion:

Kiri Picone
Bay Area transplant Kiri Picone is a writer and marketer who loves bizarre news and the color purple.