Friday, April 11, 2008

Fish sounds

I never knew fish made sounds. It's hard to believe that they do, but when you think about it, why not? Most other animals make noises, so why not fish? In "Run Noisy, Run Deep," the New York Times samples of some of the sounds made by five species of fish. My favorite is the clownfish which are prolific "singers" that produce a wide variety of sounds, described as "chirps" and "pops" in both reproductive and agonistic behavioral contexts. Clownfish sounds were recorded as early as 1930, but it was just recently that scientists discovered the unusual ligament that allows this fish to pull its jaws together quickly to produce the sounds. The accompanying article, "What’s Making That Awful Racket? Surprisingly, It May Be Fish," tells an interesting story about Cape Coral, FL, where residents were pushing the City Council to pay an engineering firm more than $47,000 to eliminate the nightly noise reverberating through their homes. James Locascio, a doctoral student in marine science at the University of South Florida, rescued the city from financial folly. He explained that at 100 to 500 hertz, black drum mating calls travel at a low enough frequency and long enough wavelength to carry through sea walls, into the ground and through the construction of waterfront homes like the throbbing beat in a passing car. How cool.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is one of the most fascinating things I've ever read!

Thank you!