Monday, September 25, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 9, 1445 H
clear sky
29°C / 29°C

These fishes in Al Hoota Cave can climb rocks


Al Hoota Cave has emerged as one of Oman's prime attractions, a subterranean marvel that continues to impress guests because of its natural beauty, which has now been greatly improved with ease of access and world-class amenities.

Inside the cave, stalactites dangle like ancient chandeliers from the ceiling, while stalagmites rise majestically from the cave floor, their growth imperceptibly slow yet astonishingly grand.

But did you know that the cave has another entrance that is accessible only to expert cavers and adventurers?

The said entrance required abseiling down several meters, passing through tight holes, and walking in total darkness, only to meet later on a series of more challenging pathways where one need to jump off cascading waterfalls and swimming through tight chambers.

This "secret" entrance has been known to a niche adventure community in Oman, but recent videos show that other than the natural rock formations and beautiful subterranean pools, Al Hoota Cave is also home to fish that can climb rocks.

In a video shared on Instagram, about a dozen of these fish were seen climbing through rock walls, dangling a few meters from a small waterfall.

The fish in question, scientifically named Nemacheilus troglocataractus, were first documented in the cave's aquatic pools by a team of Omani biologists in collaboration with international researchers.

What distinguishes these creatures from their surface-dwelling counterparts is their extraordinary ability to scale and navigate the cave's rock walls. These fish, measuring only a few centimeters in length, exhibit behaviors more commonly associated with mountain goats than aquatic fauna.

The climbable surfaces of Al Hoota's walls are covered in a thin layer of biofilm, providing the necessary traction for the fish to anchor themselves as they ascend. This adhesive layer, composed of microorganisms and organic matter, offers a potential food source for the fish as they explore vertical territories beyond the reach of traditional aquatic competitors.

This newfound attraction provides yet another reason for travelers to journey into the heart of Al Hoota's subterranean depths, not only to appreciate the geological marvels but also to marvel at the resilience and adaptability of life in its most unexpected forms.

arrow up
home icon