Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fish Fart to Find Friends

Canadian and British scientists discovered that herring create a mysterious underwater noise by shooting air out of their tiny little anal pores. Researchers suspect herring hear the high frequency farts as they're expelled, helping the fish form protective shoals at night. It's the first ever study to suggest fish communicate by farting.

"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."


The Phoenix said...

Now don't get so squeeky with me...your link is in the same place it's always been - right underneath Nowhere Girl's, and above Rabbit Hole's.

OK...that sounds really bad.

Beware the rabbit hole by the way, carrots make you fart.

Mojotek said...

Big Bertha is my favorite... It makes me ill when others do it, but when I pull one off that basically has the quality of a symphonic performance I always smile and thank God that he has blessed me with such gifts.

Dirk the Feeble said...

What a great fart dictionary!

KC said...

What I wanna know is how you found so many fart-related pictures? How do you google for something like that?

Reiki said...

Phoenix, thank you for entertaining my 4th grade level humor. I am crying.

I do not know which I find more disturbing, the sound of the Herring Fart, or the fact that I actually listened to it...

Jamie Dawn said...

How come farting fish are cute and farting people aren't? I guess your definitions answer that question.
I realize that every human being farts, but I still think it is a human plague of sorts. Just nasty!
I grew up calling them "windies" and still call them that sometimes. It's like putting a ring in a sow's ear. The nice word can't camouflage the horridness of it.

The Phoenix said...

Some people think it's cute when little kids fart. I guess it can be...unless you fed the kid chicken broth or something awful like that.

My 5 year old likes to fart in the tub, so maybe he has Aquaman-like powers and can communicate with the herrings.

Jay said...

Wow. That wsa probably more information than will ever be useful to me. Great. Now my head is crammed full of this stuff. I think something about the periodic table just fell out of my brain to make room for this stuff. Super.

siren said...

The fish are totally missing out on the complete experience since they can't light matches.

BrianAlt said...

Just more evidence of the diversity of the animal kingdom.

This isn't so hard to believe. After all, if we couldn't talk, wouldn't we develop other ways of communicating?

cube said...

Wow, just like Michael Moore.

crallspace said...

What is it called when you think that it's a fart but it's actually underwear art?

The Phoenix said...


Ben Heller said...

Hey Phoenix,

What's with the Cookies all of a sudden ?

Jim said...

I've been to a recital of the Herring Boys Choir -- their rendition of the 1812 Overture is a real show stopper.

The Phoenix said...

Now THAT is talent. I hope the boys bring an extra change of underwear. Otherwise, they will smell like those labor workers in South China you posted about, Jim.

Jim said...


Jim said...

and let me remind everyone yet again that the last photo is always Phoenix :)

Eve said...

My 6 year old just learned the "Beans Song" at school. Ironic you did this post, as farting has been the main topic around here...


Big Pissy said...

the silent deadly is the worst of all farts in my opinion.

Mostly b/c you don't have any warning~its just sorta THERE all of a sudden....and then...too late!

the pics were great~especially the one of Colin Powell!

Pixie said...

I mean really dont british scientists have better things to be researching? Like a cure for cancer maybe .Every time you post some weird findings or people getting married to aquatic creatures Britian is in there somewhere.*Sigh*
As for the gas, I know, WP produces the most foulest of odours sometimes, but I think I have grown immune to them now.....
Me I never do it, because I am a lady of course ;)

The Phoenix said...

Ladies don't fart, right Pixie?

Powell should never stand downwind from Bush.

Beans actually are good for your heart.

:P fuzzbox said...

I did not realize that as a youngster my farting in the bathtub to watch the bubbles was only an imitation of a fish. Wow I can do animal impressions. Something else to add to my resume.

David Amulet said...

Sorry, Phoenix, I was on another, old browser and the buttons didn't appear correctly. Mea culpa.

By the way, you should trademark "Poopcaso." That's fantastic.

-- david

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

And here all the while we were fishing, my Dad was blaming it on the frogs!!!

Now I know....:)

Laura:) said...

OMG, lmao, that is hilarous. Whats crazy is that all those pics are of guys but I swear girls are just as gasy. Especially, when there is an audience waiting.

angel, jr. said...

I saw a t-shirt that said "Smile and the world smiles with you. Fart and you stand alone".
You know you've bonded with your buddies when you can fart and no one reacts.

The Phoenix said...

Or they react by farting right back.

Why are farts so damn funny anyway? What about blowing air out of your butt makes people crack up???

It's the kind of sense of humor most of us just never outgrew.

Jillian said...

LOL Phoenix - Ohhhh lord I like the Big Bertha flatulence ha ha!

I didn't know carrots made one fart! :-O

Yeah, sometimes I wonder about all of the those bubbles at the top of my beta fish tank. ;-)

Grafs said...

On farting, I've taken to calling Bubba "Chief Morning Thunder" for his bathroom excursions in the mornings.

siren said...

That "Poopcaso" line is pretty damn funny.

Laurie said...

LOL.. Phoenix, you always come up with the funniest shit.. (no pun intended!)

Kid Jacque said...


he he he he

Etchen said...

Too funny. Thanks for the morning laugh!

SquirmsteR said...

Phoenix...sorry I have not made it back in a while. Not enough time to catch up on everyone like I usually do! But for now.....

TAG! You're it!!

See my post "Tag 8" for details

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