The sound of horny cod drumming for the ladies is ready for contemporary music festival and concert tour

CodPhoto: Cecilia Helmerson Titan / UiO
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Can the cod’s drum sounds be the new whale song? Researchers have managed to capture the sound in recordings.

It is simply the sound of horny cod, reports the University of Oslo – the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.

When the female cod is ready to spawn, the males compete for the best territories as if it were on a Norwegian Saturday night downtown before the corona arrived: Male cod show up with dance-like movements, waving their fins and making clear drum sounds. They make the deep, drum-like, evocative bass sounds using three muscles they have along the outside of the swim bladder.

According to researchers, the drum sound helps the cod both show off their qualities and synchronize the mating ritual – so eggs and sperm are released at the same time during the spawning process.

Another world

“The drum sounds become more and more intense as the mating ritual develops. The sound reaches a climax when the actual fertilization takes place. Then there can be an intense sound that lasts for 30 seconds,” Rebekah Oomen, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES) at the University of Oslo (UiO), told the university’s website Titan.

She and her colleagues have succeeded in something that has hardly been achieved before: to record what she calls “the sound of another world.”

Hydrophones, microphones that pick up sound waves underwater, immortalized the sound of five cod males and five cod females in a saltwater pool at the research station Flødevigen in Arendal.

The used technology was developed for the BBC series “Blue Planet II” as part of a new wave of interest in so-called marine bioacoustics. It opens up to answer a wide range of questions about sound and communication in fish – and as a side effect also to highlight the cod drumming in a new art project.

Not surprisingly, it is called “Cod Drumming.” On board is the musician and composer John Andrew Wilhite-Hannisdal, who, according to Oomen, can notice tiny changes in the rhythm of the cod drumming and find patterns.

Also included is the experimental music trio Pinquins and composer and technologist Balint Laczko, who can recreate some of the cod’s sounds using various percussion instruments.

Cod tour

According to UiO, the sound will appear at the contemporary music festival Ultima and at concerts in Oslo, Arendal, and Kirkenes in the autumn of 2021 and into 2022.

“It is so incredibly exciting that we can actually give the audience a feeling of communicating with life in the sea. My hope is that this will move us to see the world a little more from the cod’s perspective,” Rebekah Oomen said. And that perspective is not so great.

In the Oslo Fjord, it has become too challenging for cod. Oomen states that she constantly receives confirmations that the cod stays in the same fjord as it was born throughout its life.

“So, it is not possible to just empty a fjord branch of fish and think that it can easily be filled up with cod from other places,” the researcher said, adding that the ultimate goal is to take data from the sound experiments and genetic analyses to calculate the so-called population dynamics.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayTravel

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