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September 2003

DEEP SCIENCE
Sounds Fishy

"You don't think of fish as making noises, but many do. They grunt, purr, drum, croak, and grind their teeth!" wrote F. Barrows Colton in the January 1945 Geographic, where this photo first appeared. As part of an experiment to record fish noises at a New York aquarium, photographer Lilo Hess used a pinch of fish food to lure this striped burrfish to the microphone. Despite its resemblance to a big band crooner, however, the bug-eyed burrfish doesn't vocalize through its lips but by grinding its teeth to display distress or aggression—or attract mates.
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Photograph from Hulton Archive, Getty Images


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