Fish Eggs Can Survive Getting Eaten By a Duck

There is some good news for people that like coffee beans that were pooped out by monkeys! It would appear that pooping ducks can actually shed the live and completely unharmed eggs of fish. That is impressive if we consider that, for a fish egg, being eaten by a duck leads to a dangerous journey through the digestive system of the bird.

What Do Fish Eggs Go Through?

This include grinding in a gizzard, a specific organ in which stone-like formations smash the ingested food. The egg then has to survive being attacked by various stomach acids. Usually, eggs do not survive, but a few actually end up exiting completely unharmed in the poop of the duck, according to a new study. I’m sure that many of you were rooting for the fish egg, but this is actually a problem, as those eggs might transport invasive species to new locations.

A Glimmer of Hope in Some Poop

A lot of fish eggs are soft in texture and almost like a jelly. According to Orsolya Vincze, a lot of people involved in the study did not imagine that such a fragile egg could make it in the gut of a duck. But Vincze, a biologist that specializes in ecology, evolution and is affiliated with the Center for Ecological Research in Debrecen, Hungary, there was something about this that just made sense.

The Experiment

The team of researchers decided to give this a go. They fed thousands of fish eggs to eight mallard ducks. The eggs belonged to two species of carp, a fish that tends to invade ecosystems. Out of the 8,000 fish eggs that were fed to the ducks, about 18 remained intact, some even hatching. The results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on 22 June.

The Implications of the Study

According to Vincze, the conclusions are meaningful. Considering the fact that a single carp can release up to a few hundreds of thousands of eggs at a time, the numbers add up and birds might be a significant contributor to spreading invasive species of fish.