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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Fish sex so loud it could deafen dolphins

A species of Mexican fish amasses in reproductive orgies so loud they can deafen other sea animals, awed scientists said Wednesday, calling for preservation of the "spectacle" threatened by overfishing.


An individual spawning Gulf corvina, said the research team, utters a mating call resembling "a really loud machine gun", with multiple, rapid sound pulses.
And when hundreds of thousands of fish get together to spawn once a year, "the collective chorus sounds like a crowd cheering at a stadium or perhaps a really loud beehive," study co-author Timothy Rowell from the University of San Diego told AFP.
"The sound levels generated by chorusing is loud enough to cause at least temporary if not permanent hearing loss in marine mammals that were observed preying on the fish," he said.

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Rowell and colleague Brad Erisman of the University of Texas used specialised underwater sound gear to eavesdrop on spawning Gulf corvina, a popular eating fish.
Each spring, all adults of the species migrate to a single site -- the Colorado River Delta in the northernmost part of Mexico's Gulf of California -- for what scientists call a "spawning aggregation" that can number into the low millions.
The frenzy sees all the world's adult corvinas gathered in less than one percent of their usual home range for a few weeks.
During this time, male corvinas emit calls that reverberate through the hulls of fishing boats, and can be heard even above water -- drawing in the fishers.
A single boat with one net can harvest two tonnes of corvina -- which can grow to about a metre (3.3 feet) in length and weigh as much as 12 kilogrammes (26 pounds) -- within minutes, said the study authors.


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