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Herring Break Wind to Communicate, Study Suggests
National Geographic ^ | November 10, 2003 | James Owen

Posted on 11/12/2003 9:45:33 AM PST by ZULU

Herring Break Wind to Communicate, Study Suggests

James Owen in England for National Geographic News November 10, 2003

In polite society, flatulence is often a social faux pas—especially when issued deliberately. But in the world of fish, group "raspberry-blowing" sessions appear to perform an important social role. This intriguing idea comes from scientists who discovered that herring create a mysterious underwater noise by farting. Researchers suspect herring hear the bubbles as they're expelled, helping the fish form protective shoals at night. It's the first ever study to suggest fish communicate by breaking wind.

Read the full story >>

Herring may use an unusual form of communication—flatulence—to form protective shoals at night without giving away their location to predators, according to a recent study. (Listen to audio sample.)

Photograph copyright Stuart Westmorland/CORBIS

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The study's findings, now published online in the U.K. science journal Biology Letters, reveal that Atlantic and Pacific herring create high-frequency sounds by releasing air from their anuses.

"We know [herring] have excellent hearing but little about what they actually use it for," said research team leader Ben Wilson, a marine biologist at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre, British Columbia, Canada. "It turns out that herring make unusual farting sounds at night."

Wilson and his colleagues named the phenomenon Fast Repetitive Tick, which makes for the rather mischievous acronym, FRT. But unlike the human version, these FRTs are thought to bring the fish closer together.

Two teams carried out the research in Canada and Britain. One team studied Pacific herring in Bamfield, British Columbia, while the other focused on Atlantic herring in Oban, Scotland. The fish were caught locally and transferred to large laboratory tanks where their behavior was monitored using hydrophones and infrared video cameras.

The fish were found to produce high-frequency sound bursts up to 22 kilohertz. The noise was always accompanied by a fine stream of bubbles.

High-pitched "Raspberry"

"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."

Further tests revealed these outbreaks of "flatulence" are not a response to fear or feeding. When high concentrations of shark scent were introduced to the tanks, there was no noticeable increase in bubbles or sound. Similarly, unfed herring maintained the same level of emissions.

"The evidence suggests it's not gut gas that's responsible," Batty said. "If you starve the fish, they still produce this sound." Instead of gas, he says the fish use air gulped from the surface which is then stored in their swim bladders and expelled through a duct with an opening next to the anus.

What seems to trigger the noise is darkness and high fish densities, suggesting that herring use farting as a means of communication.

"Herring and other clupeids such as pilchards and sardines have a sophisticated auditory system," said Batty. "This is made even more sensitive by a gas-filled sac near the inner ear which acts to amplify sound pressure."

Sensitive Hearing

Clupeid fish, like herring, anchovies, and sprats, can detect sound frequencies up to around 40 kilohertz, way beyond the hearing range of most other fish. (The normal range of human hearing is 20 to 20,000 kilohertz.) So a method of nighttime communication using pulses of air would be extremely useful. It would enable herring to maintain contact after dark, but without giving their position away to predatory fish.

While unusual, other marine fish are known to communicate using sound. For instance, male cod make a noise to attract females when they breed. But Batty adds: "These are produced using the swim bladder, which vibrates to create a kind of drumming sound. However, the method we found hasn't been noticed before."

The researchers say further studies into how herring produce such sounds could help fishermen in locating shoals. Pacific and Atlantic herring are both important commercial species in the Northern Hemisphere.

Furthermore, given the herring's sensitivity to underwater sounds, and the likelihood they use them to communicate, there are concerns about the possible impacts of noise pollution. For example, engine noise from shipping or seismic guns used for oil surveys could all interfere with the fish's hearing.

Similarly, herring-eating dolphins and whales, which can pick up high frequency sounds, may use FRTs as a foraging clue. Consequently, noise pollution may seriously impair their effectiveness as hunters, researchers say.

"There are pods of killer whales that specialize in feeding on herring," Batty said. "The fear is they won't be able to pick up the sounds the herring are making."

It might seem an amusing idea to us that herring communicate using farts. But for herring and the mammals that prey on them, FRTs may signal safety—or the next meal.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: costalenvironment; oceans; phishpharts
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1 posted on 11/12/2003 9:45:34 AM PST by ZULU
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To: ZULU
Herring Break Wind to Communicate

Well, that settles it. Fish are Democrats.

2 posted on 11/12/2003 9:46:34 AM PST by dirtboy (New Ben and Jerry's flavor - Howard Dean Swirl - no ice cream, just fruit at bottom)
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To: ZULU
I have colleagues that practice this form of communication.
3 posted on 11/12/2003 9:48:20 AM PST by DoctorMichael (Thats my story, and I'm sticking to it.)
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To: ZULU
Backtalk (sASS).
4 posted on 11/12/2003 9:51:14 AM PST by Consort
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To: ZULU
Sounds like Rugby players.
5 posted on 11/12/2003 9:54:30 AM PST by dyed_in_the_wool (Slowly I turned...step by step...inch by inch...)
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To: ZULU
Herring Shmerring. Anyone who has ever been to one of my Sporting Event parties know that "talking out your *ss" is an accepted form of male communication.

Translation is easy
BRAAAAPPPPPPP - "Why yes I will take another beer thank you"

BRAAAAPPPPPPP - "Dam man you put too much sausage in the cheese dip"

BRAAAAPPPPPPP - "Righteous Chili Dude!"

BRAAAAPPPPPPP - "Hot Wings anyone?"

PFFFFFFFFTTTTTT - "gee I wonder whats on Lifetime"

6 posted on 11/12/2003 9:57:27 AM PST by commish (Freedom Tastes Sweetest to Those Who Have Fought to Preserve It)
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To: ZULU
I hope we didn't pay too much for this study.
7 posted on 11/12/2003 10:25:09 AM PST by Dionysius
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To: dirtboy
"Well, that settles it. Fish are Democrats."

LOL!
8 posted on 11/12/2003 10:42:08 AM PST by Ben Hecks
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To: ZULU
And here is a link to the audio, which is available from link in the national geographic article...

Herring Flatulence.

9 posted on 11/13/2003 7:25:07 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: martin_fierro
I think the title speaks for itself...
10 posted on 11/13/2003 7:27:29 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
I don't believe it, I haven't had one answer me yet!
11 posted on 11/13/2003 7:36:18 PM PST by dalereed (,)
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To: dalereed
I was swimming at Wells Beach in Maine some years back, and after ummm "letting one go", a Herring swam by and told me to stop yelling...
12 posted on 11/13/2003 7:38:57 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
Was it's demand in english or do you speak herring?
13 posted on 11/13/2003 7:40:43 PM PST by dalereed (,)
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To: dalereed
Well, we had different dialects, because I speak only Red Herring...
14 posted on 11/13/2003 7:46:11 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: Chad Fairbanks

15 posted on 11/13/2003 7:48:15 PM PST by reagan_fanatic (Ain't Skeered...)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
There's a need to reserect a brand of beans that was marketed in the 1930s Fentons Fartless Frijoles, my wife just accused me of practicing speaking to herrings!
16 posted on 11/13/2003 7:52:24 PM PST by dalereed (,)
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To: ZULU
Like so many liberals, Herrings Break Wind to Communicate, Study Suggests
17 posted on 11/13/2003 7:59:18 PM PST by ChadGore (Kakkate Koi!)
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To: reagan_fanatic
ROTFL...
18 posted on 11/13/2003 8:01:16 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: dalereed
Sounds like the mafia: "You will show me respect, or you'll speak with the fishes..."
19 posted on 11/13/2003 8:01:52 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: 2Trievers; albee; annyokie; Bloody Sam Roberts; Born Conservative; Chad Fairbanks; ...
Industrial Strength
Humor
No amateurs, please.
Send FReepmail if you want on/off ISHP list

I fart in your general direction.

20 posted on 11/13/2003 8:09:19 PM PST by martin_fierro (_____oooo_(____)_oooo_____)
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To: ZULU
Herring Break Wind to Communicate, Study Suggests

This was so not in "Finding Nemo."

21 posted on 11/13/2003 8:11:54 PM PST by martin_fierro (_____oooo_(____)_oooo_____)
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To: martin_fierro
Imagine if the military learned to do this in Morse code.
22 posted on 11/13/2003 8:13:31 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: martin_fierro
Wrong movie. The one with the breaking wind was "Blaming Nemo"...
23 posted on 11/13/2003 8:13:57 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: martin_fierro
Of course not. If Nemo did it, no one would want to find him.
24 posted on 11/13/2003 8:14:08 PM PST by Paul Atreides (Is it really so difficult to post the entire article?)
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To: ZULU
This *brappp* was discovered *brapppp* by Spongebob and Patrick *frrppp* at Rock Bottom *phffrrfft!*.


25 posted on 11/13/2003 8:14:15 PM PST by Ol' Sox
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To: ZULU
Pull my flipper bump...
26 posted on 11/13/2003 8:15:22 PM PST by Interesting Times (ABCNNBCBS -- yesterday's news.)
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Whale flatulence stuns scientists
By Simon Benson
14aug03

IT'S one of the unfortunate consequences of being a mammal - flatulence.

And, more unfortunately for a group of whale researchers, nature took its course right under their noses - literally.

The researchers claim this is the first photograph of a minke whale letting one go in the icy waters of Antarctica. It was taken from the bow of a research vessel.

[Photo caption: Pardon me ... a large bubble behind a whale in the icy
waters of Antartica. - unfortunately, I can't find the photo...]

"We got away from the bow of the ship very quickly ... it does stink," said Nick Gales, a research scientist from the Australian Antarctic Division.

However, the episode did not detract from their mission, which was to collect DNA from whale dung and attach satellite tracking devices in the first research of its kind to track where the creatures go and what and how
much they eat.

Already some incredible stories about whales are emerging.

One pigmy blue whale wearing a satellite tracking tag was found to be returning to a former population off southern Australia which was thought to have been hunted to extinction by Russian whalers.

"Every piece of this research is surprising," said Dr Gales.

"Some is confirming what we thought. We know a lot about humpbacks, but we don't know anything about where they are going.

"Internationally there is a big push ... saying there are now too many whales eating too many fish and so we have to kill them.

"It's important that we determine what impact whales actually have on a fishery such as krill ... and how that fishery interacts with the whale."




27 posted on 11/13/2003 8:28:58 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: ZULU
>>>Herring Break Wind to Communicate

So all this time my husband has been trying to tell me something?

BTW, how was the grant money for this study justified?
28 posted on 11/13/2003 8:31:34 PM PST by Calpernia (Innocence seldom utters outraged shrieks. Guilt does.)
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To: reagan_fanatic

29 posted on 11/13/2003 8:47:13 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (We Swedes eat a lot of herring, you know.)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
Yet another reason for W.C. Fields to not drink water.
30 posted on 11/13/2003 8:52:34 PM PST by Spruce
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To: All
"You know you're a redneck..." I can't wait to hear what Jeff Foxworthy is going to do with this.
31 posted on 11/13/2003 9:04:51 PM PST by pooh fan
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To: ZULU
So this is why I always confuse herring with smelt.
32 posted on 11/13/2003 9:05:26 PM PST by Tinhatter
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To: Chad Fairbanks
I think there was a herring in my car today.
33 posted on 11/13/2003 9:07:29 PM PST by DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet ("No one can do, man, what those cats in Kathmandu can." - Sammy Davis, Jr.)
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To: DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet
Or was it Diesel?
34 posted on 11/13/2003 10:01:04 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
It was weird. After reading this I could swear it was a herring, but it had a sweater and jeans on.
35 posted on 11/13/2003 10:13:03 PM PST by DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet ("No one can do, man, what those cats in Kathmandu can." - Sammy Davis, Jr.)
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To: ZULU
Alright, who was the farting preacher? BAaarrrrppp!!! "Tahnk you, Jesus!!!"
36 posted on 11/13/2003 10:16:09 PM PST by stboz
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To: mhking
Just damn.
37 posted on 11/13/2003 10:18:06 PM PST by PianoMan (And now back to practicing)
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To: DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet
Was it this?


38 posted on 11/13/2003 10:19:57 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: Charles Henrickson
Farts should never be hindered. It only makes it worse in the long run.
39 posted on 11/13/2003 10:23:07 PM PST by FlyVet
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To: Chad Fairbanks
Oh, come on, Fairbanks. Do you have a sweater with hunky dark-haired guys on it? What makes you think a herring would wear a sweater covered with fish?
40 posted on 11/13/2003 10:29:24 PM PST by DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet ("No one can do, man, what those cats in Kathmandu can." - Sammy Davis, Jr.)
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To: DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet
What makes you think a herring would wear a sweater covered with fish?

Umm... well, if it was december, in the Grand Banks, and it was all they had...

41 posted on 11/13/2003 10:30:46 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: martin_fierro
Confusion Say: He who light fart, move forward.
42 posted on 11/13/2003 10:42:26 PM PST by JoeSixPack1 (POW/MIA Bring 'em Home, Or Send us Back!! Semper Fi)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
Right. And I suppose they also have "wet sweater" contests.
43 posted on 11/13/2003 10:46:29 PM PST by DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet ("No one can do, man, what those cats in Kathmandu can." - Sammy Davis, Jr.)
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To: DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet
What would be the point? The sweaters are wet anyway. But man, they really dig the ladies in those fishnet stockings...
44 posted on 11/13/2003 10:49:45 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
I would think they'd be afraid of fishnet stockings. Maybe the danger is a herring turn-on.
45 posted on 11/13/2003 10:57:57 PM PST by DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet ("No one can do, man, what those cats in Kathmandu can." - Sammy Davis, Jr.)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
I can fart the theme from Jaws.
46 posted on 11/13/2003 10:59:11 PM PST by flying Elvis
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To: DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet
I'm guessing that now is not the time to mention my cod piece?
47 posted on 11/13/2003 11:02:14 PM PST by Chad Fairbanks (What if we see sailfish... jumping... and flying across the magnificent orb of a setting sun?)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
Okay, I didn't know what that was, so I just Googled it, moderate safe search on and everything.

You are going to pay for that, Fairbanks, and pay dearly.
48 posted on 11/13/2003 11:04:44 PM PST by DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet ("No one can do, man, what those cats in Kathmandu can." - Sammy Davis, Jr.)
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To: ZULU
Surely this qualifies as breaking news!
49 posted on 11/13/2003 11:08:24 PM PST by xp38
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To: DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet; Chad Fairbanks
Cod Dang it anyway, I have a herring loss, and I refuse to post on bodily function and sex threads....
50 posted on 11/13/2003 11:08:32 PM PST by Syncro (Speak up, I can't herr you...)
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