Silent sea creatures? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that!
Stingrays can make very audible clicking sounds.
Scientists at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences have discovered that two subspecies of cartilaginous fish make the unexpected sounds.
“The fact that we have only just realized that these commonly observed stingrays make sounds shows how little we know about the oceans.” Lachlan Fetterplace, ecologist, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
The researchers assume that the animals make the sounds to confuse potential predators – and thus to gain an advantage when escaping.
They base this on the fact that the rays start when a diver approaches and stop when the supposed predator moves away again.
Another assumption by the scientists is that the noises serve as a kind of “battle cry” and should prompt fellow animals to rush to the aid of an animal in danger.
It is not yet clear exactly how the rays produce the sounds. It is suspected that rapid movements of the head or jaw, similar to a human finger snap, could be behind it.
The researchers publish their findings in the journal Ecology, emphasizing in their paper that more research is needed to better understand stingray behavior – and their unusual sounds.
The stingray family is large, comprising 19 genera with about 100 species. The tail of the animal has up to four spikes that can be poisonous. When threatened, the animals flap their spiked tails over their bodies.
In 2006, world-renowned documentary filmmaker Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray while filming on the Great Barrier Reef.