Recording Fish

New Study First to Document the Voices of Fish Larvae

Researchers suggest that these sounds are key to maintain group cohesion

The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science did a study about fish larvae that produce sounds with a "knock" and "growl” noise that may help small larvae stay together in the dark.

Claire Paris, UM Rosenstiel School associate professor of ocean sciences states: “Although many adult fishes produce sounds, no one has previously considered that larvae, too, may be sound producers. This is the first study to show that fish larvae have an acoustic repertoire. This is a true discovery as it reveals the existence of a communication system for young fish larvae.”

Their researchers observed that larvae produced “knocks” and “growls” in the range of 200–800 Hz, which is within the hearing range of most adult fish. The fish larvae produced these sounds during 70% of the nighttime trials, and none of the daytime trials. The gray snapper larvae used in the study arrived in a large group over the span of a few hours, suggesting that these acoustic signals may provide a mechanism for these larvae to maintain group cohesion during their pelagic journey.

“The study was setup to record ambient sounds around the drifting arena that might guide the fish larval orientation.. It was a fantastic surprise to listen to the recording and hear that the larva itself was emitting sound,” said Paris. “Communication between larvae could allow them to maintain group cohesion, which is critically important for faster swimming, finding navigational signals and settlement cues, and better survival during the pelagic phase.”

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