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Non-vocal species such as turtles are chatty

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Hawksbill sea turtle

It may surprise people, it certainly surprised me, that non-vocal species such as turtles and tortoises, lungfish and caecilians are actually quite vocal according to Gabriel Jorgewich-Coen, the lead researcher on a study and a PhD student at Zurich University.

His team studied 53 species that are considered to be non-vocal and found that they are able to produce a range of sounds including grants, purrs, chirps, crackles, croaks and clicks. He says that some titles produced a range of sounds and others “wouldn’t stop chatting”.

Hawksbill sea turtle

Hawksbill sea turtle. Image (words added) by NOAA Fisheries.

The research is published in Nature Communications. Each species was recorded for 24 hours and some of the equipment was operated underwater to enable the researchers to record vocalisations made by lungfish, a freshwater vertebrate that can also breathe air.

Turtles made quiet noises. For instance, the red-footed tortoise made a low noise halfway between a croak and the bark according to the science reporter at The Times, Kaya Burgess.

Jorgewich-Cohen said:

“The idea was to focus on animals that are commonly historically considered to be non-vocal. I wanted to go deep on reporting these animals that are not known to vocalise and try to understand this.”

A professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, John Wiens, said that this is an advancement in that “They’ve documented more things making sounds than people had appreciated previously. That’s the first step.” He argues that more research was needed to ascertain whether the vocalisations were used to communicate with other members of their species.


Separately, and in an entirely different story, a fisherman, Andy Hackett, recorded one of the world’s biggest goldfish catches at 64 lbs 4 oz in Champagne, France.

Huge goldfish

Huge goldfish. Angler Andy Hackett caught the fish nicknamed The Carrot at Bluewater Lakes in France. Photo: Bluewater Lakes.

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