Deep conversation: study provides insight into how fish communicate with each other


New research reveals the incredible extent of underwater sound communication, which began 155 million years ago with sturgeon. It turns out that the primordial depth is a very chatty area.

In a new study published in the journal Ichthyology & Herpetologyresearchers from Cornell University show that fish depend much more on auditory communication than previously thought.

Discussion of Aristotle

In his History of Animals, Aristotle discusses the “noises and squeaks” that fish make, sometimes grinding their bones against each other in a mechanism known as stridulation.

Yet for decades the lack of sufficient underwater microphones and recording equipment has prevented scientists from knowing how many species of fish produce noises, and whether those noises are simply the rumbles of silent creatures or communicate. truly.

fish sounds

(Photo: NOAA/Unsplash)

The researchers found that the noises represent “a great means of communication between fish, rather than just a few oddballs,” according to lead author Aaron Rice, a Cornell researcher. Ornithology laboratory K Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics.

Not only is acoustic communication common among fish, but Rice and colleagues’ analysis of sound-producing physical characteristics (such as certain swimbladder musculature) across species suggests that ancient sturgeons began chattering at out loud 155 million years ago, around the same time that some tetrapods, such as birds and mammals, began to speak.

Additionally, the study found that auditory communication between various fish species developed at least 33 times independently, due to the variety of their environments.

This trend implies more species and groups of soniferous fish that have yet to be discovered. He emphasizes the importance of auditory communication in the evolution of vertebrates.

Related article: Scientists discover how fish display signs of self-awareness in a mirror


What are the fish talking about? It seems that sex and food are the main topics of discussion. “In reproductive circumstances, we see more sophisticated sounds being created,” says Rice.

How these noises sound to people varies greatly; therefore, scientists use onomatopoeic adjectives like “boops”, “honks” and “hoots” to describe what they hear.

Some fish, like the threespine toadfish, make croaking frog-like sounds, while others, like the suckerfish, make deep, eerie hums resembling fog horns.

A previous study of the noises made by extremely talkative cod found that the fish may have regional dialects that are difficult for other members of their species to understand.

Fish behavior


(Photo: Getty Images)

Researchers can better assess the consequences of noise pollution on various aquatic species by understanding how fish interact through sound.

Noise pollution, researchers say, is as damaging as overfishing, water pollution and the climate crisis, hurting marine animals and at least 21 species of fish that rely on hearing to survive. Noise pollution is even more harmful, according to Cornell research

“If you have millions of individual fish that depend on communication sounds for the survival of their populations, altering their acoustic environment could have serious effects,” Rice adds.

Rice believes that by recording and cataloging fish sounds on the Internet, the public will better understand these sometimes enigmatic species.

Hopping on a computer and listening to the sounds of the sea could be a technique to get people interested and concerned about the welfare of fish in the same way that we are with more recognizable and charismatic species like birds.

Andrew Bass, a behavioral and evolutionary neuroscientist and co-author of the study, expects the findings to help humans understand the complexity of other animal communities in general.

Also read: Just like humans, monkeys observed signs of choking under pressure

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