Codfish have accents, depending where they swim, scientists say

9NEWS at 6 p.m. 10/5/16.

It's not just the fish on your grandpa's wall that can talk.

British scientists are studying codfish, and their "languages." Researchers say the cod species is highly vocal. They make different sounds in different areas, just like birds, bears and other animals.

American cod and European cod make distinctively different noises. You can hear it in the video below:

"Sound is a really important sense for the fish. They can't see very far in the water because light doesn't travel very well. and at nighttime sound travels obviously very long distances," Steve Simpson told Next. He's a marine biology professor at University of Exeter.

Simpson, who specializes in bioacoustics — sounds produced by living organisms — said cod found in U.S. waters display a deep thumping sound while those taped in Norway have a higher-pitched sound, with a long growl. It seems British cod have their own distinct dialect but more research needs to be done to establish its particular qualities — if it prefers tomahto to tomato.

They know that because they use underwater microphones to record these sounds. Like college students, sounds they make are actually used for mating, as well as for avoiding predators or for hunting.

The British government is paying for most of the research. That's because the country is concerned about how human-made noise affects everything that lives in the ocean.

"A lot of our own noises are competing with these natural soundscapes, and sometimes dominating them. So a lot of the work we do now is trying to manage noise pollution to give fish more chance to live out their lives as they used to do," Simpson said.

So, just like people might speak English in several different ways, it's possible these fish have their own "accents."

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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