Natures wonders: pearlfish find safe homes (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, December 19, 2014, 00:13 (1898 days ago) @ David Turell

Pearl fish make sounds and find safe homes:

"“We may think of them as silent, but fish make many sounds that are rarely appreciated by the human ear. Clownfish chirp and pop by gnashing their teeth together. Oyster toadfish hum and blare like foghorns by quickly contracting muscles attached to their swim bladders. Croaking gourami make their signature noise by snapping the tendons of their pectoral fins.

"Altogether, more than 800 fish species are known to hoot, moan, grunt, groan, thump, bark, or otherwise vocalise. Carol Johnston, an ecologist at Auburn University, is partial to the sounds made by lollipop darters, small fish native to Alabama and Tennessee. ‘They sound like whales,' she told me.”

"Rather famously, pearlfish (family: Carapidae) species from the the genera Carapus and Encheliophis make their homes in the living bodies of invertebrate hosts, including sea cucumbers and starfish. Once inside, some of the creepier species even feed off their host's genitals. But how, exactly, do they get in? Either head-first, propelling themselves forward with a few vigorous tail-thrusts, or tail-first, coordinating their inwards slides with the host's next ‘breath'.

"“Oh”, I hear you say, “they go in through the mouth?” Well, not quite. They go in through the cloaca, which is in all intents and purposes, an anus, through which sea cucumbers and starfish breathe. Once inside, a pearlfish will hang out in a unique breathing organ called the ‘respiratory tree' all day, very occasionally poking their own anuses outside to relieve themselves into the open ocean. Pearlfish only leave their hosts at night to feed, when their ribbon-thin bodies can hide from predators under the cover of darkness."

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