Can fish hear?

December 17, 2016 | Author: | Posted in Environmental

With present knowledge this question cannot be answered definitely. Experiments have given conflicting results. Some investigators believe that certain fish do not respond to the stimuli of sound, waves, while
others have obtained some reaction to such stimuli, Since different species of fish were used in the experiments, it is possible that the sense of hearing is present in some species and not in others. In A Guide to the Study of Fishes, David Starr Jordan, an eminent authority on fish, wrote:
The sense of hearing in fishes cannot be very acute, and is at the most confined to the perception of disturbances in the water. Most movements of the fish are governed by sight rather than sound. It is in fact extremely doubtful whether fishes really hear at all, in a way comparable to the auditory sense in
higherwertebrates. Recent experiments of Prof. G. FL Parker on the killifish tend to show a moderate degree of auditory sense which grades into the sense of touch. While the killifish responds to a bass-viol string, there may be some fishes wholly deaf.
The structure of the auditory organs of fish indicates that the hearing sense, if present, must be quite different from that of higher animals, for they do not have an external auditory passage, tympanic cavity, eardrum, nor Eustachian tube, all of which play an important role in the perception of sound waves by man and other higher vertebrates. Some scientists have supposed that the inner ear of fish is an organ of equilibrium rather than of hearing. In 193o Dr. Karl von Frisch of the University of Munich reported to the National Academy of Sciences that experiments made by him with minnows indicated that this species has a better hearing sense than human beings. Blind minnows, he said, quickly associated the sounds of tuning forks, whistles, guitars, organs and violins with feeding time. They could even distinguish between the varied sounds of the different instruments. But it is not certain that Dr. Frisch correctly interpreted the relationship between the sound waves and the hearing apparatus of the minnows. It is still generally believed that if fish can “bear” at all it probably does not amount to more than receiving disturbances in the water made by the sound waves. The subject has a popular interest because most fishermen insist that it is necessary to keep quiet while fishing.

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