Blub-blub-blub becomes la-la-la in fish dawn chorus

Hear the incredible sounds of an aquatic choir recorded in Western Australian waters
fish batfish singing "Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-BATFISH!!" (© Secondshot | Dreamstime.com)


If you were asked what the sound of sunrise is, what would you say? A rooster crowing? Song birds singing? Those are both pretty solid choices. But if you lived underwater (which you don't, we know, but bear with us!), you might think that morning sounded like this...

Whoah. Neat, right? It sort of sounds like a gathering of alien frogs. But it's actually three different species of tropical fish recorded at dawn in the waters off Western Australia. The fish also are found to sing at dusk (sunset) as well. It's all part of a phenomenon that even ichthyologists (that's fish scientists) are still learning much more about.

The noise of the sea

In the recording that you hear above, there are three distinct calls. The constant "burrrrrr" sound is the call of the blackspotted croaker. The noisy grunt comes from a species of Terapontid (these fish are also commonly known as, wait for it, "grunters"). And finally, there is a much quieter, rising "ba-ba-ba-ba" call that belongs to the batfish. Listen again and see if you can pick them all out.

So much for fish being the quietest creatures around! It turns out that over 800 species of fish are known to "vocalize" (make sounds such as grunting, barking, and more). They make these sounds in a variety of ways, including gnashing their teeth, contracting their swim bladders (gas-filled organs used to float), or snapping their fins back and forth. Overall, these calls help the fish communicate, whether it's a school hunting in the dark or a group defending their territory from predators.

And yes, just as in a forest at dawn, the ocean can be full of song. Laaaaaaaaaa!!


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