Queensland researchers have found a small fish that knows a good trick to avoid being eaten.

Marine scientists at James Cook University have found an interesting mechanism employed by the damsel fish. When the damsel is in distress it grows a large fake “eye spot” near its tail and reduces the size of its own eyes.

JCU Professor Mark McCormick says the trick of the eyes makes the fish appear to be swimming backwards, which confuses predators.

Prof McCormick says the fish “end up having a much larger eye spot than they do when they're not exposed to a predator... it's likely to actually distract the attention of the predator to the back of the fish where it’s less vulnerable to attack.”

Some internet commentators have speculated it would work like using the moonwalk to escape a street fight.