For those with an aversion to Christmas songs, the idea of hiding out in the Mariana Trench can seem quite appealing at this time of year – except now it appears that even the fish are at it, so there really is no escape. To prove it, researchers have recorded the tuneful sounds made by fish at the SEA LIFE London Aquarium, before mixing them into an aquatic version of Jingle Bells at the famous Abbey Road Studios.
Professor Steve Simpson from the University of Exeter made the recordings using specialist equipment that can detect sound waves underwater.
While most people might think that fish aren’t particularly vocal, Simpson says that sound is in fact crucial to many aquatic species, explaining in a statement that “there are many reasons fish make noise, including defending territories, warning against predators and during courtship.”
Underwater hydrophones were used to eavesdrop on the aquarium’s 300 clownfish, picking up croaking, popping, and purring noises as individuals attempted to assert their dominance over one another. An argument between native crayfish was also recorded, with the combatants apparently competing over food. Eventually, one of the pair made a trumpet-like hoot, signlling its surrender.
While this might sound like a normal Christmas day in many households, it is in fact the first time that fish have been recorded vocally communicating in the UK. Amongst the other sounds picked up were the clicks made by seahorses as they noisily gobbled down a meal, as well as a continuous growling noise courtesy of a triggerfish.
James Wright, Displays Curator at SEA LIFE London Aquarium, explained that “sound plays an important role in the health of our oceans and we were curious to find out how the diverse fish species at London Aquarium use language to communicate with one another or at the very least find a fish that had a vocal range like Mariah Carey in time for Christmas.”
Thanks to the Simpson and his team, the fish at the London Aquarium have now followed in the footsteps of The Beetles by producing a record at Abbey Road Studios. Let’s just hope they don’t try to recreate the famous album cover on zebra crossing outside.