Fish Love Songs and Battle Speeches: Library of Underwater Sounds to Reveal the Language of the Deep

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This story was originally published by The Guardian and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

From the “boing” of a minke whale to the “drumming” of a red piranha, scientists are documenting more sounds in our world’s oceans, rivers and lakes every year. Today, a team of experts wants to go further and create a reference library of aquatic noises to monitor the health of marine ecosystems.

The Global Library of Underwater Biological Sounds (GLUBS) will include every ‘thwop’, ‘muah’ and ‘boop’ of a humpback whale as well as man-made underwater sounds and recordings of the geophysical vortex of ice and wind, according to an article in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

Of the approximately 250,000 known marine species, scientists believe that all 126 mammals emit noise. At least 100 invertebrates and 1,000 of the world’s 34,000 known species of fish are known to make noise, but experts believe there are many more sounds waiting to be discovered and identified.

By bringing together existing libraries of fish, frogs and other marine species, it is hoped the library will help identify the lullabies, songs and hymns of aquatic ecosystems. Some species of fish seem to develop geographic dialects, while blue whale calls are known to change over time.

“The most extensive habitats in the world are aquatic, and they are rich in sounds produced by a diversity of animals,” says lead author Miles Parsons of the Australian Institute of Marine Science. “With biodiversity in decline worldwide and humans relentlessly modifying underwater soundscapes, there is a need to document, quantify and understand the sources of underwater animal sounds before they potentially become extinct. .”

Scientists are planning a vast global reserve of aquatic sounds to help monitor marine life, identify species and even discover regional dialects. #Marine #Fish #Oceans #Biodiversity

In the examples given by the experts, the skunk anemonefish from Madagascar produce different fighting sounds than those from Indonesia. The calls of fin whales differ between populations in the northern and southern hemispheres and across seasons, while those of pilot whales are similar worldwide.

Existing websites such as FishSounds and FrogID already host an inventory of water sounds. But it is hoped that a single platform would enable the use of artificial intelligence for the identification of unknown noises while allowing scientists to monitor the health of reefs, open ocean and freshwater ecosystems. . According to the proposals, the public could bring their own underwater recordings.

“Collectively, there are now many millions of hours of recordings around the world that could potentially be assessed for a plethora of known and, as of yet, unidentified biological sounds,” said Jesse Ausubel, one of the founders. of the International Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE) and a scientist at Rockefeller University.

Underwater noise monitoring has been used to study the effect of hurricanes and how prey change their behavior near predators, and to document the migration patterns of large whales. Many species of fish and invertebrates are nocturnal, often making audio monitoring the only viable survey method.

“Varieties of human songs include love and work songs, lullabies, carols and hymns,” Ausubel said. “Sea animals should sing love songs. Perhaps AI applied to the World Library can help us understand the lyrics of these and many others.


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