I don’t know about y’all but underwater sound communication from mere fish was not something I would’ve thought is a thing. Sure, we have some species (such as dolphins or whales) that use echolocation, or sharks that use their tingly shark-y senses to navigate their underwater world, but it turns out stingrays are out there making actual sounds! Goofy cute stingrays having gossip circles – what’s not to love??
Stingrays (much like their close cousins sharks) are known to respond to sounds in their environment, such as by moving away from a potential foe or moving towards struggling prey. But there has been no evidence that they actively produce sound in the wild – until now. To be clear, this isn’t just sounds associated with tummy rumbles or eating noises but seem to be intentional noises in the form of clicks. Although it isn’t super clear (yet) what the stingrays are communication it might be related to alerting their buddies of potential threats lurking about.
This of course begs the bigger question: what does the stingray say?
*Okay having just written this I realise this is complete whale (and the other 990 species of bony fish) erasure but like still!
Tanya Strydom is a PhD candidate at the Université de Montréal, mostly focusing on how we can use machine learning and artificial intelligence in ecology. Current research interests include (but are not limited to) predicting ecological networks, the role species traits and scale in ecological networks, general computer (and maths) geekiness, and a (seemingly) ever growing list of side projects. Tweets (sometimes related to actual science) can be found @TanyaS_08.