Are mating fish what’s keeping Tampa residents up at night?

Black drum fish. Image via Shutterstock/Andrea Izzotti

By Crystal Harlan

January 31, 2024

Theories about its origin have included noises from the nearby Air Force base, a party boat with large speakers blasting a bass beat, construction projects, and even aliens. 

Residents of South Tampa have been hearing a strange thrumming sound that they can’t identify. Some say it’s so loud that it sends tremors through their homes and keeps them up at night. 

The sound has been irritating and confounding locals since 2021. Theories about its origin have included noises from the nearby Air Force base, a party boat with large speakers blasting a bass beat, construction projects, and even aliens. 

But local scientist Dr. James Locascio, program manager for fisheries habitat ecology and acoustics at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota, thinks the sounds could be coming from black drum fish mating. 

The community has raised money on GoFundMe to fund an investigation led by Locascio, who would install underwater microphones in the bay to test out his theory. The drive met its goal of $2,500 to fund the project earlier this week, and Locascio is now searching for sites to install the recorders.

Black drum fish produce low frequency drumming sounds by flexing their muscles against their swim bladder. Typically they mate on winter nights, which could explain why residents have been hearing the sound more recently.

While it’s unusual for underwater sounds to travel through the air, black drum fish noises could be making their way to people’s homes via tunnels or the ground, according to a Washington Post report. It’s also possible the black drum fish population in Tampa Bay has ballooned recently.

If the fish are indeed to blame for the noisy nights, residents will have to wait out mating season.

“Well, it’s nature,” South Tampa resident Sara Healy, who organized the fundraiser, told the Washington Post. “There’s nothing to be done.”

 

RELATED: Video: Man steals live fish from Fort Myers Bass Pro Shops

 

Author

  • Crystal Harlan

    Crystal is a bilingual editor and writer with over 20 years of experience in digital and print media. She is currently based in Florida, but has lived in small towns in the Midwest, Caracas, New York City, and Madrid, where she earned her MA in Spanish literature.

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