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Baby Fish Sounds

October 23, 2014

Baby fish communicate with knocks and growls.



Adult gray snappers in Molasses Reef, Florida. (Evan D’Alessandro)

Chatty small fry. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

(Fish sounds)

These knocking sounds are produced by tiny larval reef fish that hatch in the open ocean. University of Miami marine scientist Claire Paris and her team recorded these sounds as well as growling sounds produced by the larvae. Paris says these calls may help the baby fish find each other and stay together.

CLAIRE PARIS (University of Miami):

This could be a means for them to travel in schools, especially at night, because they were producing the sounds at night, and the visual cues are limited at night.


Schooling behavior helps fish navigate and avoid predation, so audio cues could be essential to the young fishes’ survival. The work raises the question of whether human made sounds, from undersea construction, military exercises, and oil exploration, could be contributing to the decline of fish populations. The work appears in the journal Biology Letters. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.