Seahorses Can Growl When Stressed

Felicia McCaulley Dwarf Seahorse

Dwarf Seahorse, Photo by Felicia McCaulley

You know those cute, cuddly little seahorses that are so timid and shy? Well, apparently they can growl when irritated. While these sounds aren’t as intense as you might initially believe, these cute little seahorses can, in fact, express their displeasure audibly according to a fairly recent story in LiveScience. The growls, unfortunately, aren’t detectable by the human ear, but scientists have recorded the sounds using special audio equipment, documenting their findings in the Journal of Zoology.

So how did the scientists induce these groans of distress? They grabbed the seahorses, simple as that. Anytime the seahorses were held, they would emit this deep pulsing sound that would sometimes be accompanied by a vibrating motion. Further study revealed that the seahorses emitted clicking sounds when eating and mating, with the sounds intensifying toward the end of the three day courtship.

For an example of these sounds, specifically those associated with being handled and courtship, check out this video. The sounds are quite rhythmic, especially the clicking sounds, which occur in pairs.

It’s no surprise that seahorses can make sounds, especially since so many other fish grunt and growl for various reasons. Fishermen all know of the grunts from various species of saltwater drums, such as the croaker which can be quite audible when handled out of water.


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