Fish in the Public Eye 1

Hello all. This is the first of hopefully many installments of “Fish in the Public Eye”.

In this section, I will share some stories that I encounter in the news, or elsewhere in media. This time we are going to go to the top ten stories of 2004 by National Geographic Magazine.

It has long been known that the Atlantic and Pacific Herring have an unusually good sense of hearing, far beyond what is expected. Marine biologists at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre, British Columbia, Canada think they may now know why. At night, these fish create a noise for communication. The Herrings do not make the noises when they are scared or have discovered food, but for what may be an even more complex range of communication that we thought originally. However, more research will be needed in that area. This phenomenon has been named “Fast Repetitive Tick” (FRT). Scientists in Oban, Scotland have also been working on this phenomenon. FRTs produce a high frequency noise and it has now been discovered that they are accompanied with a fine stream of bubbles. After further examination, “In video pictures we can see the bubbles coming out of the anal duct at the same time,” said Robert Batty, senior research scientist at the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban. “It sounds very much like someone blowing a high-pitched raspberry”. Yes, it seems that a FRT it just that, a FRT. But the have now figured out that the fish did not have too much Taco Bell, it gulps air from surface stores it in the swim bladder and expels it from an opening near the anal duct.

So what new information have we learned from this research? We now know that Herrings use auditory communications. So when we blast sound waves into the ocean not only will we have beached dolphins and whales, but also disoriented, and possibly dead as a result, Herrings. These fish are one of the major bases of the offshore food chain. The are also one of the top fish caught by fisherman. So we should be weary of these SONAR explorations and seismic guns. On the positive side, knowing more about this means of communication will help fisherman locate schools of fish.