Fish talk to each other, scientist says

New Zealand fish language recorded. Scientist Shahriman Ghazali recorded gurnard, yellowtail and bigeye fish using an underwater microphone.  Under water grunts, chirps and pops recorded by an Auckland scientist have revealed a mysterious language used by New Zealand fish. Audio recordings analysed for the first time in New Zealand to find out whether fish talk, will be played to an audience in Wellington today, presented by Auckland University researcher Shahriman Ghazali. His study began two years ago, when he started listening to recordings taken by colleagues studying ambient noise in the Leigh marine reserve north of Auckland. They made an underwater microphone, with which Mr Ghazali decided to try to establish which sounds were being made by which fish. “Bigeyes are producing something like a popping sound but they organise them temporarily so it’s like morse code.” To discover which fish was making each noise, Mr Ghazali brought groups of individual species from the sea to a tank at the laboratory. Using an easily

obtainable hydrophone, or underwater microphone, he continually recorded crayfish to test if there was any basis to the commonly held belief they made sounds when divers approached. “Funnily enough, I didn’t get any sound from any of them.” Instead, he repeated the test with bigeye, an endemic nocturnal fish which lives in similar environments, and found they were making the noises. It was possible they made sounds in response to divers approaching, and that other fish used sound for functions including communicating and orienting themselves around reefs. Getting any fish to start making the sounds had not been easy while they were held in the tanks. They only made sounds in groups, and also took some time to adapt to their new environment. Gurnard were found to be making distinctive grunts which followed a particular pattern throughout the day. “Goldfish have excellent hearing, but excellent hearing doesn’t associate with vocalisation – they don’t make any sound whatsoever.”Mr Ghazali’s research is being presented at the three-day NZ Marine Sciences Society conference, which begins today. source:  ~ Marine Science Research & Teaching – University of Auckland.

Proposed Leigh Marine Centre Upgrade and Educational Facility. There is growing international recognition of the crucial role the ocean will play in the future of mankind. The oceans underpin all living systems on earth – they provide the base of the food chain, control climate, and have a major impact on global change and global change solutions. If solutions are to be found to the pressing problems of sustainability, energy production and food supply, New Zealand needs the underpinning science and trained students with the right skills. With this in mind, The University of Auckland is looking to upgrade its current facilities at the Leigh Marine Laboratory at Goat Island. The plan involves a renovation of the existing site to upgrade the current science facilities, and the addition of an educational outreach centre for visitors to the area and school children in Auckland and Northland to better understand the marine environment.The proposed project has been granted Resource Consent by the Rodney District Council and Auckland Regional Council. It remains subject to funding and further consents from the respective Councils.The University has begun meeting with key stakeholders such as immediate neighbours, tangatawhenua and the local community at

Leigh. If you would like to be included on the list of stakeholders, or would just like to know more about the project, please email with your details and we will contact you. About Leigh Laboratory; Marine Teaching and Research Department of the University of Auckland.The Leigh Marine Laboratory is situated on the northeast coast of New Zealand, at 36deg. 16′ S, 174deg. 48′ E. It is about 100 km north of the city of Auckland, and bathed by the warm-temperate East Auckland Current (13-22 ° C). As a field research base the Leigh Laboratory has the twin advantages of access to a wide range of unspoiled marine habitats accessible in almost all weather, as well as relative proximity to a large urban centre and the full resources of New Zealand’s largest University. Although Leigh is a small coastal village, it boasts several cafes and its population is a mix of fishers, farmers, Auckland commuters and – marine scientists. The Leigh Marine Laboratory differs from many other marine labs in that Leigh is in effect a “marine campus” of the University of Auckland. The academic staff based at the lab coordinate and contribute to a range of

undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Auckland, as well as supervising postgraduate students based at the laboratory. One unique aspect of life at Leigh is the fact that MSc. students can, and do, live on-site while researching and writing-up their research projects. PhD. students are encouraged to find local accommodation outside the lab, but in the small coastal town of Leigh, they are never far away. With a total of ~25 PhD. and MSc. students and ~5 Post-docs based at the lab, the result is a close-knit and vibrant research community. Research and teaching at Leigh are supported by a well qualified staff of eleven full time and two part time staff. The natural assets of the Leigh Marine Laboratory influence the range of research conducted here, which is largely diving-based temperate reef ecology (visibility is usually 5-10 m). A good example of this is a range of current work being done in the nearby no-take Goat Island Marine Reserve (518 ha). The Laboratory was instrumental in establishing this reserve 25 years ago and marine life is now far more abundant than in neighboring coastal areas. There are several other easily accessible marine reserves in the region, providing unique access to replicated large-scale ecological manipulations. Projects range from establishing the effects of protection on

fish and spiny lobster and tracking their movements within the reserve, to investigations of predation, grazing and trophic cascade effects in temperate reef ecosystems. The reserves provide numerous insights into functional aspects of local marine ecosystems as well as the potential and pitfalls of marine reserves. Fieldwork is well supported by a fleet of inflatables and speedboats and dinghies, a high speed compressor for divers and a fully equipped workshop that can assist with the construction of experimental apparatus. Shore based diving is literally a stone’s throw away. Further offshore, the lab provides access to a range of islands including the renowned Poor Knights, one of the world’s best known temperate dive destinations. These islands are home to a thriving and diverse flora and fauna including a range of subtropical species carried south in the warm clear waters of the East Auckland Current. The 15m RV Hawere provides a live-aboard dive platform for work at these sites. The boat is capable of cruising at 18 knots making day trips to the islands viable, and has 8 berths, a wet lab, extensive deck space and a full range of modern electronics and navigation aids.There are also active programs in the ecology of soft sediment ecosystems and aquaculture,

many of which focus on the amazing bivalve populations seemingly found everywhere in New Zealand estuaries and beaches. The steady supply of high quality sea water also provides the necessary base for a range of aquaculture projects, many of which are based around a newly re-fitted hatchery that includes a microalgal culture room, axenic culture facilities, filtered, temperature controlled seawater and photomicroscopy. Algal biochemistry and ecophysiology are another focus at the lab, revolving around understanding nitrogenmetabolism in marine plants as well as the role of algal secondary metabolites as a defense against grazers. This work is supported by a full time technician and a lab equipped with a high vacuum line with liquid nitrogen trap, refrigerated water baths, oxygen and pH meters, seawater filtration, drying ovens, high capacity organic-free pure water supply, refrigerated centrifuges, five figure and 4 figure balances, HPLC (HP binary with autosampler), and two UV/Vis spectrophotometers. Laboratory Facilities The success of Leigh as a base for graduate research has encouraged the University to make a commitment to upgrading the facility by doubling the office and lab space, and funds are being sought to establish a marine education and interpretation centre that will be open to the public and provide an increased range of facilities for visiting school and university groups. The marine reserve is already a popular destination for these groups. These improvements will see the lab well equipped for a period of further growth in the near future. Mr Shariman M. Ghazali news from:

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