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Florida Fish Sounds

 

During a recent vacation in St. Augusting, Florida, I was able to make some recordings on the last night of our stay. While dinning at Aunt Kate's restaurant in Vilano Beach, I noticed a nice fishing pier and boat dock on the Tolomato River. I was able to come back a few nights later to record sounds for a couple hour late at night.

Fishing pier recording site

Fishing pier recording site

Looking up at pier from floating dock

Looking up at pier from floating dock

View of boat ramp from pier

View of boat ramp from pier

View of restaurant from pier

View of restaurant from pier


As soon as I dropped the hydrophone in the water I was met with a cacophony of sounds, dominated by the boatwhistle call of the toadfish, Opsanus tau. Here is a short clip.


Spectrogram of sounds recorded at 2300h

Spectrogram of sounds recorded about 11 pm.
Toadfish near the hydrophone produce the strong red to yellow bars at frequencies between 100-600 hz, while only the peak frequencies of 200-300 Hz appear for many toadfish farther away from the hydrophone. Sciaenids (various species in the drum family) and snapping shrimp occur at higher frequencies.

Listen to the sound (mp3)
Download the sound (wav)

After some time, a small motorboat came up the river and passed by the pier. I was surprised to see an apparent response of the toadfish which seemed to stop calling as the boat passed. More unexpectedly they also seemed to delay resumption of calls until after the noisy boat wake had subsided (the wake caused wave noise, as well as a lot of dock rocking noises). Itís not clear if the delay reduction in toadfish sounds during the wake noise was a response to that noise, or simply a delay in returning to normal after the boat noise impact. Unfortunately, sound files long enough to show this in context are too large to post online, so I provide a spectrogram of the noise over the long sequence, and short clips at representative times.

Spectrogram of sounds recorded at 2300h

Spectrogram apparent boat noise effect on toadfish
Spectrogram of approximately 15 minutes covering a period before, during, and after the boat passage. You can see the numerous toadfish calls (green verical lines) before and after the boat and wake noise, with only a few evident in the wake noise period. Toadfish are not heard during the boat noise period. However, other fish sounds can be heard to continuing through the noise (which is the behavior more typical of fish in my experience).

Spectrogram of boat noise

Spectrogram of boat noise
Here the spectrogram is zoomed into the time period of the boat noise (about 1 minute 15 seconds), in which you can see only three nearby toadfish calls (others are in the background).

Listen to the effect of boat noise on toadfish sounds (mp3)

Spectrogram of boat noise Spectrogram of boat noise
Compare that to a call rate of 9-14/minute for the nearby toadfish (many more are in the background) in the rest of the recordings (1 minute sample shown below). You can also listen to the compressed sound file (wav files are too big to post).

Listen to the normal soundscape (mp3)


I was able to capture and audition three fish, two hardhead catfish, Ariopsis felis, and one gafftopsail catfish, Bagre marinus. Both species make similar sounds, and one of each species produced two different sounds during auditioning. I could feel the vibrations coming from different locations as I held the fish during auditioning. I was a bit shocked when I heard all three individuals calling while I was capturing them. In all my efforts over the years with many species, I've rarely heard fish call while fighting the line. Sounds are almost always heard only as you handle the fish.

Ariopsis felisHardhead catfish, Ariopsis felis

An approximately 10 inch hardhead catfish, Ariopsis felis auditioned at approximately 2330 h on 30 April 2019 on the Tolomato River, Vilano Beach, Florida.

Spectrogram of Ariopsis felis sound Spectrogram of Ariopsis felis sounds
The sound was filtered to highlight the catfish sound so the sounds of toadfish and others animals will be distorted when listening to the clip. Two types of sounds were produced by the specimen, the "normal" grunt, and a weaker higher frequency grunt labeled type 1 and 2, respectively.
Listen to the sound (mp3)
Download the filtered sound (wav)

Bagre marinusGafftopsail catfish, Bagre marinus

An approximately 10 inch Gafftopsail catfish, Bagre marinus auditioned at approximately 2315 h on 30 April 2019 on the Tolomato River, Vilano Beach, Florida.

Bagre marinus

Spectrogram of Bagre marinus sound Spectrogram of Bagre marinus sounds
The sound was filtered to highlight the catfish sound so the sounds of toadfish and others animals will be distorted when listening to the clip.
Listen to the sound (mp3)
Download the filtered sound (wav)


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Copyright © 2019 by Rodney Rountree. All rights reserved

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