Can you imagine if humans used flatulence as a form of communication? Yikes. We don’t want to picture it, either.
But apparently some types of herring do pass gas to “speak” to each other without alerting other fish.
A 2003 study revealed the findings, but we’re just “herring” about it now, and we just had to share.
When the fish pass gas, the bubbles that emanate make a high-frequency sound only audible to herring. The fish use the noise to form “protective shoals” at night to help them stay safe, National Geographic explains.
The men named the phenomenon Fast Repetitive Tick (or, um, FRT). The noise sounds “like someone blowing a high-pitched raspberry,” Robert Batty, senior research scientist at the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban, told National Geographic.
However, the gas is not caused by the digestive process. Instead, the fish swallow air from the surface and emit it through a small opening near their anuses. Thus, the farts aren’t technically flatulence by its formal definition.
Researchers Bob Batty, Ben Wilson and Larry Dill made the discovery after studying Pacific and Atlantic herring in Canada and Scotland. The humorous discovery earned the scientists an Ig Nobel Prize, an award given to “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think,” the official website explains.
The odd noise even once sent the Swedish navy scrambling for answers. Swedish scientists soon discovered it was herring and not Russian submarines as the navy had suspected, the Guardian reports.