What Is a Bait Ball? - 30A

What Is a Bait Ball?

By: Shannon Serpette | Posted Mar 16, 2022

Fish are amazing creatures that employ a variety of defensive techniques to stay safe from all the predators they face. A bait ball is one of the methods that baitfish turn to when they feel threatened. This fascinating formation hooks the interest of bystanders on the shore and boats who see it play out, but it can make the fish easier targets for the predators hunting them.

What’s a Bait Ball?

A bait ball is when small fish that travel in schools, such as sardines, swim tightly in a ball-shaped formation to protect themselves against predators if they feel threatened. In shallow water, onlookers can see the configuration, even above the water, and may wonder what’s going on under the surface.

Forming into a bait ball is an instinctive behavior. It can protect the fish because being part of the big group gives them a better chance at avoiding a predator than they would have by swimming individually. Unfortunately, this method often backfires.

Check out this video of a HUGE bait ball moseying down the beach. Video by Dave Meadows: