“Not since the campfire scene in Mel Brooks’ film Blazing Saddles has the world been exposed to flatulence on such an epic scale.” So reads the recent headline in The Times UK.
But instead of gassy, bean eating cowboys, it is shellfish that are producing vast amounts of methane in the Baltic Sea.
Research off the coast of Sweden showed that underwater flatulence by mussels, oysters and clams produced one-tenth of greenhouse gases released there – equivalent to 20,000 cattle. The Stockholm University researchers believe the shellfish are farting more due to digestion of agricultural fertilizers in coastal waters.
Fish farts also are giving clues to fish distributions.
ScienceShot reports a University of South Florida team picked up the barely audible, cricket-like noises using a robot glider that sampled ocean sounds in Tampa Bay.
The sounds lasted throughout the day and night, and were most likely from massive schools of menhaden and herring releasing gas from their swim bladders.
Of the 30-thousand or so fish species in the world oceans, researchers believe the sounds of fewer than one thousand have been recorded. Here’s the mating call of black drum –
And here is a midshipman fish guarding its nest.
Tuning into the underwater soundscape offers clues to where sea creatures are and what they are doing.