Singing Fish Mystery Solved

Posted: Sep 23 2016, 5:45am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Singing Fish Mystery Solved
A midshipman fish’s head is shown in this undated handout photo. Margaret Marchaterre/Courtesy of Cornell University/Handout via Reuters
  • Fish Supposedly Sings During the Night Time

Moonlight sonata fish has been found that supposedly sings during the night time.

The male of a species of fish known as the plainfin midshipman sings love songs during the mating season. The fish thrives in the waters from the Pacific Coast all the way to Baja California.

As for the sound made by the male fish, it is almost otherworldly. Researchers have thought a lot about what makes these fish sing at night. The study conducted found out the answer to this one.

The vocalization of the fish is like a low frequency hum. This resembles a foghorn. It is controlled by a light-sensitive internal clock as well as the hormone melatonin.

Melatonin as everyone knows is responsible for sleep/wake cycles. These special fish are the voice aficionados of the marine world alongside dolphins and whales.

The vocal signals play a key role in reproduction and social interaction. This fish is about 15 inches in length. It has a mild brown color. The name of the fish is due to a series of bioluminescent organs on its underside that look like they are buttons on a midshipman’s uniform.

The males travel all the way from offshore depths during the spring and summer months into shallow intertidal waters. There they make nests underneath the rocky terrain.

All through the night the males hum tunes. This is possible thanks to a gas-filled bladder that they allow to quiver rapidly. Thus they attract females to their hideouts. Once the females arrive the spawning begins.

A single humming sound can go on for almost 2 hours. Such is the stamina of the fish. The other males join in the chorus of voices. While in conditions of darkness the fish tend to keep to their internal body clock.

However, in constant brightness, the hormone melatonin was suppressed and so the humming underwent alteration, according to Reuters.

When the fish were kept in conditions of brightness but given the hormone melatonin even then they didn’t quite pick up on the natural trend of humming they were so used to in the wild state.

Melatonin seems to keep avians quiet at night, and even allows human beings to catch their Z’s, yet in this fish it has a different affect altogether.

People have always been puzzled by the midshipman’s humming sounds. They don’t know what to make of them. Yet now scientists know better thanks to experiments that have been carried out.

The findings of of the study are published in the journal Current Biology.

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