Thursday, December 18, 2008

Getting in the Holiday Spirit

ResearchBlogging.orgNow that I have survived the frigid north and have returned to the real world where there is electricity, the sun is shining and there's no such thing as ice storms, I can return to providing you the most up-to-date and important science news and such from around the world. I know, you're all so excited!

So personally, I've been spending the past day or so getting myself all jolly for the holidays. Of course, we're talking tree decorating, gift wrapping and the lovely sound of holiday pop songs to set the mood.

Apparently, some researchers from Loch Lomond Sea Life Centre in Balloch, Dunbartonshire have a thing for Christmas music, too. Following on US research that showed fish could recognize melodies, the scientists decided it sounded like a good idea to test what Christmas songs sharks and rays prefer.

The seasonal favorites like 'Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree' and 'White Christmas' will be played in the underwater tunnels where a variety of elasmobranchs including nurse sharks, black-tip reef sharks, and rays can hear them. They'll be looking for the fish's reactions to the different hits, like lowering fin tips, swimming faster or making sudden movements or positions that indicate aggression or excitement.

There is some debate as to whether the fish will prefer the softer, more traditional melodies or newer pop favorites like Wham's 'Last Christmas.' I personally think the sharks will be pumped up by the edgier new-classics, but that's just me.

Next, of course, will be finding out if they have the same aversion to fruitcake...

Chase, A. R. (2001). Music discriminations by carp (Cyprinus carpio) Animal Learning & Behavior, 29 (4), 336-353


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