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Fish talk in grunts, chirps, pops - research

Wednesday 7 Jul 2010 6:22 p.m.

By Emma Joliff

An Auckland scientist has recorded what he says are the sounds of fish talking to each other.

They grunt, chirp and make popping sounds.

But, they may not have realised, for two years someone’s been listening.

That someone is researcher Shahriman Ghazali.

He says they vocalise, or talk, using popping sounds.

“Quite similar to the sounds that divers seem to be able to hear when they go crayfish hunting,” he says.

Mr Ghazali’s been cataloguing the vocalisation of big-eyes and blue-fin gurnard for two years.

Malaysian-born, Mr Ghazali says English is his third language – his second being “fish”.

He says several fish are known to make specific sounds for reproduction.

“Either for courting, males courting the females, or during spawning – as a means of synchronisation for egg release,” he says.

It is new research in New Zealand, but scientists around the world have been studying fish talk for years.

Mr Ghazali says fish risk exposing themselves to predators by “talking”, so there must be a very important reason.

But understanding what that reason is, or what they say, is a whole different kettle of fish.

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