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article imageFish 'talk' in pops, grunts and growls, scientists find

By David Masters     Jul 7, 2010 in Science
Auckland - Scuba divers may commend the silence of the deep, but new research shows the underwater world is abuzz with the noise of chatting fish.
Scientists at Auckland University listened in on fish talking in a secret underwater language that includes pops, grunts and growls. They believe fish use the sounds to warn about predators, give directions, and attract the opposite sex.
"All fish can hear but not all can make sound," researcher Shahriman Ghazali told the New Zealand Herald.
The next stage of the research is to work out exactly what the fish are saying with the sounds.
"This is the next step. We are 99 per cent sure they are fish sounds," Ghazali said. "Now we want to find out what the sounds mean."
Ghazali monitored different breeds of fish in tanks inside a laboratory. He used microphones and movement detectors to listen on the underwater communications.
Gurnard turned out to be the most talkative breed of fish, grunting and chattering through the day. Cod are more reserved, and stay silent most of the time except when they are spawning. Goldfish were the quietist of all.
"Goldfish have excellent hearing but they don't make any sound whatsoever," Ghazali said.
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