Fish Fart to Find Friends
"We know [herring] have excellent hearing but little about what they actually use it for," said research team leader Ben Wilson, a marine biologist at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre, British Columbia, Canada. "It turns out that herring make unusual farting sounds at night."
Wilson and his colleagues named the phenomenon Fast Repetitive Tick, which makes for the appropriate, FRT. But unlike the human version, these FRTs are thought to bring the fish closer together. They only seem to fart like this in the company of their fellow fish.
In college, my fraternity brothers bonded by releasing their own FRTs as well, however.
Two teams carried out the research in Canada and Britain. One team studied Pacific herring in Bamfield, British Columbia, while the other group observed Atlantic herring in Oban, Scotland. The fish were transferred to large tanks where their behavior was monitored using hydrophones and infrared video cameras. Gee, I wonder where they put the hydrophones. The fish were found to produce high-frequency sound bursts up to 22 kilohertz. The noise was always accompanied by a fine stream of bubbles.
...and giggles by the scientists.
To hear a herring fart, click HERE.
So how are fish farts used as communication?
Herring can detect sound frequencies up to around 40 kilohertz, way beyond the hearing range of most other fish. So a method of nighttime communication using pulses of air would enable herring to maintain contact after dark, but without giving their position away to predatory fish.
What seems to trigger the farting extravaganza is darkness and high fish densities, suggesting that herring indeed do use farting as a means of communication.
What seems to trigger farting extravaganzas for men are usually chilli, beer, and an eagerly awaiting audience.
This research does actually have useful purposes. Scientists fear that noise pollution by humans could interfere with the herring farts - and thus not enabling them to hear each other. Also, dolphins and whales are believed to use FRTs as an aid for finding herring - a staple in their diets. Noise pollution could adversely affect their ability to find food. Finally, studying the FRT phenomenon could help fishermen find shoals of herring for commercial purposes.
Like I said, I don't believe herrings are the only animals that use flatulence to communicate. Humans have developed different types of farts as well. Some of these types are used to communicate with fellow human beings, some are meant to inflict pain, and others attempt to solicit a response, such as laughter.
Here are just a few types of human flatulence:
Silent But Deadly Fart (SBD) - This fart is like a stealth weapon. Not a sound can be heard, yet the smell is foul enough to clear a room. Many times, people combine the SBD with a "fart and run"...often walking away and leaving a trail of destruction behind.
Eggy Fart - Smells like rotten eggs (or Hydrogen Sulphide). This kind has been known to make people ill, and make their eyebrows fall out. This is toxic and strikes fear into others. Even the farter cannot stand his own smell.
Windy Fart - This fart is released with a wooshing sound. Perhaps the anus musles are quite relaxed, and the smell isn't too bad at all. This fart might be caused by swallowing air. This is a non-toxic fart.
Drumroll Fart - Maybe you're holding in your farts, and you sort of have these internal ones. Sounds like a drumroll...preparing for the big release. At times, it sounds like growling.
Big Birtha - Staccato rip, long substancial resonance, and amazing awful smell. This is the one that people swear came out of a horse or a dog that just ate Beefarino. Some use the Big Birtha as a weapon or warning to stay away. Many times, the farter might even bend over in anguish, as this one could backfire and injure the anus. Other times, you swear the farter probably crapped in his pants.
Wet Fart - This one sounds like a child making a wet raspberry. You can actually hear the liquidity in the flatulance. This fart communiates to others that the farter probably has the "the runs."