Collaborating Authors

Fish Hum, Purr and Click Underwater -- and Now Machines Can Understand Them


As the sun rises over the island of American Samoa, a chorus of animal voices drifts upward. They're not the calls of birds, though -- the purrs, clicks and groans are coming from under the water. New research shows how automation can make it increasingly easy to eavesdrop on the fish making the sounds and uncover how their environment impacts them. Jill Munger first heard about fish that make sounds while she was an undergraduate student. A veteran researcher told her about marine acoustics.

This fish has a love song and it sounds like a windshield wiper

New Scientist

Coral reefs are noisy environments. So if you're struggling to be heard, you might need to try something new. Damselfish are renowned marine chatterboxes, and several species can make sounds. Until recently, we only knew about two types of call: single pulse sounds or "pops" made when damselfish snap their teeth together, and "chirps" formed of multiple pulses joined up. Named after its likeness to a windscreen wiper on dry glass, the wiping sound of the Ambon damselfish, Pomancentrus amboinesis, was recorded by scientists at a reef in Taiwan.

Scientists capture rare fish 'singing' thanks to underwater audio technology

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The weird and wonderful sounds of fish communicating with each other have been captured for the first time ever in the UK, revealing a strange array of vocalisations such as gurgles, clicks and croaks. The sounds were recorded by Professor Steve Simpson, a marine biologist and expert in bioacoustics from the University of Exeter, using special underwater recording equipment at the London Aquarium. The team recorded clownfish, crayfish, triggerfish and seahorses as they fed, argued and communicated with one another in the water tanks. With a little help from sound engineers at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios, Professor Simpson and aquarium staff have remastered the fish orchestra into a festive track for Christmas. Fish communicate with noises including grunts, chirps, pops and purrs.

Damselfish living in the waters of Belize train shrimp to run algae farms used for food

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Could anything be better than chilling by the sky-blue waters of Belize, with servants doing your grunt work? Not for the longfin damselfish, who has turned the planktonic mysid shrimp into a virtual farmhand. The tiny shrimp have been trained to help the damselfish fertilize the algae farms that make up its diet, according to a new study out of Australia. This may be the first instance of a non-human species domesticating another species. Understanding how the damselfish has'trained' the mysids could reveal insights into how humans first domesticated dogs, chickens and other animals.

Dying coral could be revived by playing sounds of healthy reefs via underwater loudspeakers

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Dead patches on Australia's Great Barrier Reef could be revived by playing the ambient sounds of a healthy reef via loudspeakers to lure in young fish. These fish help to clean the reef and make room in which new corals can grow, beginning the process of ecosystem recovery. Increasingly frequent marine heatwaves have been creating dead patches in the barrier reef by'bleaching', in which corals are forced to expel their symbiotic algae. Dead patches on Australia's Great Barrier Reef could be revived by playing the ambient sounds of a healthy reef via loudspeakers to lure in young fish. Marine biologist Tim Gordon of the University of Exeter and colleagues set up submarine loudspeakers in patches of dead coral around Lizard Island on Australia's recently devastated Great Barrier Reef.