Valentine’s Lesson From the Sea: Sing to Be King Fish

Article ID: 599067

Released: 11-Feb-2013 12:00 PM EST

Source Newsroom: Cornell University

Newswise — In honor of Valentine’s Day, Andrew Bass, professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University, is available to discuss the Plainfin Midshipman – a vocalizing fish that hums love songs to attract its female counterpart to den-like nests beneath rocks.

Bass says:

“As one becomes mesmerized by the serenity of a calm summer’s night, sitting along the shore of the intertidal zone in northern California, a distinct drone-like sound creeps into one’s consciousness. It is the ‘hum’ mating call of the Plainfin Midshipman fish. During high tides, males sing their love song from beneath rocky shelters in the intertidal zone, trying to attract females into their lair.”


Bass’s laboratory has used these fish for nearly three decades as a model system for revealing how the brain of these vocal lotharios both controls the production of sounds with vowel and syllable-like qualities are used in social communication and how it is able to detect and extract meaning from those sounds.

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