And Now, the Sound of Farting Fish

How better to end the day than with some ichthyological flatulence? Thanks to an undersea robot, we've recorded some fish off the coast of Florida producing some previously unknown sounds. And the best explanation really is that the fish are farting.


Specifically, fish such as menhaden and herring likely created the noise by releasing gas from an internal organ known as the swim bladder. That gas passing doesn't sound too much like human farting — you can hear it in the video up top, although I'm afraid it's only barely audible — but it does represent the closest fish equivalent to flatulence, an activity that is primarily observed in mammals.

What's particularly interesting about this is where the fish chose to fart. The glider robot was able to record the location of all the sounds made by the various fish in the sea surrounding Tampa Bay, and most of the noises made by these fish only happened at depths greater than forty meters. The one exception? Yep, the fish headed to shallower waters when it was time to fart.


If I didn't know better, I'd say they were trying to get as close to us as possible before they started passing gas. Also, the fish seemed to wait until nighttime before farting, which I can only assume was because, like all species with self esteem issues, the fish were too ashamed of their flatulence to fart during the daytime. For more info on the more, well, scientific parts of this research, check out the original paper here.

Via ScienceNOW. Image of Red Grouper by BBM Explorer on Flickr.

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This answers the question: If a fish farts in the middle of the ocean, will anyone hear it?