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LISTEN: Toadfish Sound Like Vibrating Cell Phones

Nope, that's not the sound of you getting a text. It's a fish.

Fish don't have vocal chords, per, but they do make noise. One species in particular has a super unique way of communicating.

The toadfish speaks like a vibrating cell phone.

toadfish sound


Bob Mazur was diving in Cozumel, Mexico, when he heard some strange noises. Investigating further, he recorded video and audio of the fish making the bizarre sounds. This footage, uploaded to NatGeo WILD captures the unique warning call of the "splendid toadfish."

Initially the humming sounds confused Mazur, according to NatGeo.

He thought his diving gear was making the noise until he saw the toadfish's gaping mouth.

toadfish sound

Giphy/NatGeo WILD

Ocean Conservation Research notes that the toadfish — which can often sound like a low, loud boat horn as well — creates the noise by using the muscles near its swim bladder. This is a common technique for many noisy fish, per another NatGeo article.

The swim bladder is an air-filled organ that fish have. It acts as a ballast to keep from sinking or floating in the buoyant water. These swim bladder muscles are used as a resonator to amplify their sound because the muscles can move quickly.

In this case, the sound that's being amplified for the toadfish is one that sounds like phone buzzing.


NatGeo reports that toadfish use vocalizations for both warning calls and mating calls to attract females. (Nothing sexier than a phone buzz.) It's likely that what the diver heard was a warning one, if the fish was concerned about the human intruder.

Finding and recording these noisy fish is tricky though, because — per — their vibrating vocals have similar frequencies to ship sounds. Human-made noise pollution strikes again.

When toadfish can be heard, though, it's pretty fascinating. They even each have their own "unique patterns of boops and grunts," per NatGeo. So, no two fish sound exactly alike.

Listen to them buzz and hum in the video below ... just don't get tricked into believing you got a text.

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