Researchers release audio of fish orgy so loud, it deafens dolphins

20 Dec 201718 Shares

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

A school of sardines. Image: Rich Carey/Shutterstock

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

A species of fish has astonished researchers with a mating ritual that is so loud, it can permanently damage the hearing of other sea creatures.

In the Gulf of Mexico, a team of researchers has looked into the mating patters of the Gulf corvina fish to reveal something quite remarkable.

The researchers found that, in great numbers, these fish cause such a disturbance that it can be heard for miles around.

According to AFP (via Phys.org), the team from the University of Texas went out to the fish’s spawning points, and found that when hundreds of thousands come together at once, their “collective chorus sounds like a crowd cheering at a stadium or perhaps a really loud beehive”.

Each spring, every single adult male of the species gathers at just one spot – the Colorado River Delta in the northernmost part of Mexico’s Gulf of California – in a spawning aggregation that numbers in the millions.

During this time, the males emit a mating call that resembles “a really loud machine gun” to attract females, creating a truly deafening sound for any other sea creatures around.

According to the study’s co-author, Timothy Rowell, he and the team were “a bit surprised by how loud the aggregation is”.

Rowell added: “The sound levels generated by chorusing is loud enough to cause at least temporary, if not permanent, hearing loss in marine mammals that were observed preying on the fish.”

To aid conservation efforts

In a paper published earlier this year in Biology Letters, Rowell and his team listened in on these love calls to help keep track of the species’ numbers for conservation efforts.

While this might sound slightly strange and invasive, it is the most accurate way to track their numbers because of their tendency to hide beneath the murky waters found in the Gulf of Mexico.

Based on this latest survey, it is estimated that corvina numbers are in the range of 1.5m, but the creatures are incredibly vulnerable to fishing as they are very easy prey. This is because their sounds can be heard through a ship’s hull, and they are predictable in their spawning point.

The biggest surprise to the team was that, despite the damage that the fish calls would cause, dolphins and seals still swim nearby, possibly on the hunt for a meal.

Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com