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22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Tunes from the deep surface on URI website

Oyster toadfish, courtesy of NOAA.KINGSTON, R.I. -- July 30, 2002 -- While you won't find the notes of the Bigeye Scad, the Atlantic Croaker, and the Rock Hind on the shelves at Strawberries or on anytime soon, they do have a new CD featuring their ratchet sounds, whistles and drums.

The three are among a collection of recordings of more than 150 species of fish from the western North Atlantic that is now available on CD. A few of their tunes can be sampled for free at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) website at The recorded sounds range from the "boatwhistle" toots of the oyster toadfish to the teeth rasps and clicks of the parrotfishes to the ratchet sounds of the drums and croakers.

The compilation represented decades of work at URI’s Narragansett Marine Laboratory (which later became the GSO) by the late scientist Marie Poland Fish and Electronics Engineer William H. Mowbray. During their research from 1950 to 1970, Fish and her colleagues maintained a hydrophone at the waterfront of the campus, with a cable from the hydrophone leading to the laboratory. If the timing was right, upon entering Fish's laboratory, one would encounter the grunts, whistles, and toots of fish life from lower Narragansett Bay.

Their collected studies were documented in the printed volume Sounds of Western North Atlantic Fishes: A Referenceile of Biological Underwater Sounds (Johns Hopkins Press, 1970 (ISBN 8018-1130-9).

According to GSO Assistant Dean Kenneth Hinga, the original magnetic tapes were found in a storage vault where they had been tucked away some 30 years ago. Through the passage of time, memory of the tapes was lost.

If not for a chance encounter with a former GSO acoustic group technician, Paul Perkins, Hinga said the tapes would probably still be sitting in the vault, safely forgotten.

The newly transcribed recordings are of high acoustic quality and faithfully reproduce the original recordings.

The collection corresponds directly to the sonograms and descriptive materials for each species found in the printed volume, and which is listed in more than 340 library collections. The CDs are a valuable addition to existing copies of the Fish and Mowbray volume.

The recordings include the identification of each species and are a useful reference to anyone specifically interested in the sounds made by fishes or in bio-acoustics in general.

The sounds are available in a two-compact-disk set. Each species is recorded as an individual track. A printed index is provided to permit easy location of the sounds for any species.

Copies of the two-CD set can be obtained by mailing a check for $40, payable to the University of Rhode Island Foundation, to: Fish Sounds, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882. Please include your shipping address for the CDs.

There are also a limited number of new, never-distributed copies of the printed Fish and Mowbray volume. Copies of the printed volume plus the CDs can be obtained by sending a check for $140 to the address above.

For information: Kenneth Hinga, 874-6888, Jhodi Redlich, 874-4500, Lisa Cugini, 874-6642

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