Fish don’t just sing in cartoons or picture books – it turns out their choruses can also be heard in the coastal waters of Western Australia, especially at dawn or sunset. Curtin University researchers captured seven distinct melodies, and say the fish songs could help us better understand their ecosystems.

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Four researchers from Curtin University’s Centre for Marine Science and Technology wrote a research article published this month in the journal Bioacoustics. They recorded fish sounds near Port Hedland for 18 months. Sorting through sounds of ships and humpback whales, they managed to extract the fish choruses, which happened mostly between “late spring and early autumn,” the area’s wet season.

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The songs swell as each fish repeats a noise over and over, and the sounds layered over one another create the chorus. The fish even sing at daybreak, at sunset, or at both times as birds might. The information on patterns and locations of these fish calls could give us deeper insight into their intricate ecosystems. Noises like these are important to fish as they feed, stake out their territory, or reproduce.

Scientist Robert McCauley who is a co-author of the paper told New Scientist, “I’ve been listening to fish squawks, burble, and pops for nearly 30 years now, and they still amaze me with their variety. We are only just beginning to appreciate the complexity involved and still have only a crude idea of what is going on in the undersea acoustic environment.”

You can listen to the fish choruses here. The sounds you’ll hear come from the Black Jewfish, which makes a “foghorn” sound; a Terapontid species making a sound like the “buzzer in the Operation board game” according to co-author Miles Parsons; and the “ba-ba-ba” sound of a batfish.

Via New Scientist

Images via gjhamley on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons