Sunday Sketch: Thought Bubbles

Pacific and Atlantic herring (Clupea pallasii and Clupea harengus) are a large part of the commercial fishing industry and are thus well studied by scientists. However, nighttime sounds coming from the herring left scientists stumped, until video analysis revealed the herrings’ elusive communication style. Described aptly as Fast Repetitive Tick (or FRT), herring use digestive gas from their swim bladder to emit burts of pulsing sounds from their anal duct. Scientists hypothesize that since these FRT sounds happen most often when the herring are in groups, it is used as a form of social communication. This is all a formal, scientific way of saying that fish fart to communicate with other fish!

Sketch and fact contributed by Karli Chudeau

Source: Wilson, B., Batty, R. S., & Dill, L. M. (2004). Pacific and Atlantic herring produce sound burst pulse sounds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B(Suppl.), 271, S95–S97. DOI:10.1098/rsbl.2003.0107. 

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