Frontlines | Golden Oldies-Piscine Style

Erica P. Johnson

It's not Mozart or Elvis that does so, but a cacophony of noises, resembling those that emanate from a reef, that makes the embryo of a clown fish heart's throb for a home. After birth, the ant-sized juveniles swim away, but eventually they return to a reef to live.

In trying to determine how these flashy reef fish do so, marine biologist Stephen Simpson, University of York, investigated sound as a possible cue. He and colleague Hong Yang, University of Kentucky, played noises of different frequencies and volumes to fish embryo in a soundproof chamber, and observed them under the microscope. When the sounds were "just right," meaning they matched the pops, bangs, whoops, and crackles emanating from a coral reef, the embryos' heart rate increased.

The researchers confirmed the possibility of acoustical memory on Australia's Lizard Island by creating silent and...

Interested in reading more?

Magaizne Cover

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?