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Media opportunity: The guttural grunts, boops and high‑pitched squeals coming from under the waves now part of a digital library that could help researchers understand fish behaviors
In the peace of the submarine world is a little-known chorus of sounds comprised of everything from the grunts of a Bocon toadfish and the cough of an alewife to the rasp and ticks made by sablefish.
They are the distinct communications of a range of species that are not well chronicled or understood, despite the ecological importance of fish sounds.
To fill that gap, researchers developed FishSounds, the first global inventory of fish sounds that can be easily accessed and updated by contributors. They hope it will help researchers understand fish behaviours, track invasive species and monitor overall ecological health.
The team, from Dalhousie University, the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, the University of Florida and Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil, recently outlined its work in a new paper and updated the site. The latest version includes a map visualization with statistics about fish species and the sounds they make.
It also reveals how fish are more talkative nearer the equator and that while the Pacific Ocean has more species, the Atlantic is more communicative. Still, the authors say there's much more to discover in the southern hemisphere and freshwater systems.
Sarah Vela, a senior data manager with Dalhousie University's MERIDIAN research group, is one of the project leads and is available to discuss the innovative tool that brings the underwater soundscape to both academics and the public.
Senior Research Reporter
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