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Fish Farts Almost Caused a War Between Sweden & Russia

Fish farts are not always a laughing matter. National security is at stake.


Flatulence. Socially, it didn't happen for us. But for fish, farts are not frowned upon. It's "bad hair don't care" for herrings, family Clupeidea. It's totally cool for herrings to talk out of their butts.

Because that is literally what they are doing — talking out of their butts, producing secret sounds their predators can't hear. Remember as a kid trying to burp the ABCs after chugging Dr. Pepper? It's like that.

Herrings actually break wind to communicate, according to NatGeo.

Listen for yourself in the video below.


"The Swedish scientists who identified the herring fish farts (from Stockholm harbor hydrophone recordings given them by the Swedish government) were awarded the 2004 Ig Nobel Prize in biology," writes Improbable Research, whose tagline is "Research that makes people laugh and think."

Indeed. Fish farts do make you think-laugh. Once you know about fish farts you can never unknow about fish farts and then aren't you a party.

There's even Fish Fart, the game. "It's actually quite fun!"


However, comrade, fish farts are not always a laughing matter. National security is at stake.

Or at least it was this one time because "herring have been documented to emit a 'raspberry' sound in association with releasing bubbles from their anus." Remember this. Raspberries are going to feature in what happens next in the history of science and international relations.

In the early 1980s, herring farts (which make a high-pitched buzzing sound, like a "raspberry" and also "the mechanical clicks of submarines when heard on a hydrophone") so messed with naval radar that Sweden and Russia almost went to war. They thought the fish farts were radar evidence of their enemies close by and friends. You can't make this stuff up.

Swedish fish farting was freakin' Sean Connery in Hunt for Red October. Dangerous.

The IgNoble prize has yet to be given to the researchers who determine if fish farts smell. Maybe?

But if you are thinking about what possible value you could add to Science's knowledge of animal farts, this field is wide open. Tally ho!

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