The Gulf Corvina is the loudest fish on Earth, according to a new study published in The Royal Society: Biology Letters. Gulf Corvina — which swim to spawning grounds along the Colorado River Delta each year — are known for the loud, chattering sounds they make when they gather. However, that noise is not just loud, it is deafening. The noise the Corvina’s make is the loudest ever recorded for a single fish.
This discovery comes from researchers at the University of Texas and the University of California, San Diego, who set up camp along the Colorado River to monitor the fish in 2014. They conducted a series of acoustic surveys during peak migration periods that enabled them to measure the Corvina’s loudness, location, and overall density.
Those experiments revealed that the noise produced by a single corvina can reach up to 190 decibels, and the collective volume can reach roughly 163 decibels. That may seem backwards, but a single fish is often louder than the collective.
“Individuals are louder than this, but sound is absorbed by the water after being released by the individual,” study co-author Timothy Rowell, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego, told Gizmodo. “For this reason, the chorusing is quieter than an individual.”
The reason the decibel measurements are so high is because such measurements are different in water than they are in the air. Water more easily transports sound pressure than air, which then amplifies noise. That makes a single Gulf corvina louder than two 175-horse-power outboard boat engines. In fact, the noise is so intense that it can cause permanent hearing loss in both dolphin and seals.
Researchers believe the fish make the loud sounds to communicate in an already noisy environment. It is similar to the way humans raise their voices to be heard in a crowded room.
While the noise is unique, it is also causing problems for the species. Fisherman can easily track the corvina, which is rapidly harming their overall populations. The team hopes the problem can be addressed soon in order to save the fish before it is too late.