Monday, 15 May 2017

Hear the roar of the lionfish recorded for the first time

12 May 2017

By Sandrine Ceurstemont

Hear them roar. Lionfish have been recorded making sounds for the first time.

Decoding these sounds could give us an insight into secret lives of this voracious invasive species – and help us keep tabs on its spread.

Many fish produce sounds to communicate with each other as low-pitched noises travel far underwater. “It’s a dominant mode of communication,” says Alex Bogdanoff at North Carolina State University.

Bogdanoff and his team decided to investigate the lionfish’s ability to produce sound after hearing reports from several divers that they make noises. This invasive species has been spreading through the Caribbean and east coast of the US. They often devour several organisms at a time, which is drastically reducing some native fish populations and altering ecosystems.

Underwater soundscape
The team recorded the underwater soundscape in an outdoor tank for five days, at first with a single lionfish and then with a group of five individuals. Occasionally, they stirred up the water with a net to see whether stress caused the fish to make different sounds.

The team found that the fish often produced a rhythmic sound similar to a heartbeat and to calls made by other fish. But they also produced another noise made up of a much quicker series of beats (listen to the audio file, below). “It sounds like the rapid beating of a drum,” says Bogdanoff.

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