Saturday, April 14, 2012

Science: Answering the Big Questions

The seas are alive with the sounds of ... flatulence. An autonomous, torpedo-shaped robot called a glider launched by researchers at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg mapped a variety of sounds around the West Florida Shelf, while recording ocean noises over a one-week period. Among those noises were the familiar grunts and whistles from red groupers and toadfish.

But at least three biological sounds reminiscent of crickets left the researchers puzzled. They think that the sounds may be from menhaden and herring fish releasing gas from an internal buoyancy organ called a swim bladder. Read: Farts. Who knew? But hey, fish eat and excrete waste, just like the rest of us. So why not also pass gas? The robotic watercraft did not pick up any recordings of the fish saying, "Excuse me," however. The scientists reported their findings in the Journal of Marine Ecology.
 Do you think they get embarrassed?

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