GSO Fish Sounds Collection

Recordings of 153 species of fish from the Western North Atlantic compiled by Marie P. Fish and William H. Mowbray.

The History of the Fish Sounds Collection at URI

Page from the studies of Fish & Mowbray. Click for full-size image.

Between 1950 and 1970 Marie Poland Fish and William H. Mowbray recorded sounds made by marine fish. Their collected studies were documented in the printed volume Sounds of Western North Atlantic Fishes: A Reference file of Biological Underwater Sounds published by the Johns Hopkins Press in 1970 (ISBN 8018-1130-9).

Fish and Mowbray made recordings of sounds produced by 153 species of the 220 species of fish they studied. The collection of sounds corresponds directly to the printed sonograms and descriptive materials for each species found in the printed volume. The sounds range from the “boatwhistle” toots of the oyster toadfish, to the teeth rasps and clicks of the parrotfishes, to the ratchet sounds of the drums and croakers. The species included are from the US Atlantic coast and the Caribbean Islands.

This compilation of sounds represented decades of work by Marie Poland Fish and her colleagues. The original magnetic tapes were transferred to a digital format and are available for research purposes.

Example Recording

Listen to an example sound:

Example recording of Galeichthys felis, sea catfish, index number 047.002, from CD Supplement to: Sounds of the Western North Atlantic Fishes by Fish & Mowbray, 1970. CD ©University of Rhode Island, 2001.

Some of the sound from the Fish & Mowbray collection are in the Fishes section of the Audio Gallery on the Discovery of Sound in the Sea (DOSITS) website. The examples on DOSITS are selected short portions of the sound recorded for a species and have been edited to improve their listening quality.

Request Digital Files for Research Purposes

Digital files of the collection are available for research purposes at no charge from the University of Rhode Island. We ask that you consider a donation to The Graduate School of Oceanography if you use the digital files. Use of the sounds for research may include use for scientific research and student research projects. Specific requests for teaching purposes and educational purposes will be considered. The sounds remain copyright of the University of Rhode Island and the sounds may not be redistributed, posted to the web, incorporated into other works, made available in a public manner, or used for commercial purposes without express permission of the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography.

Requests for non-profit educational purposes will also be considered.

To request a copy of the digital archive for research purposes, please send an email to with a description of your research incorporating the fish sounds.

Index and Archive

There are additional fish sound recordings by Marie Fish and William Mowbray archived at the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. View the Marie P. Fish & University of Rhode Island contributions to the Macaulay Library.