A British Town's Insomnia Could Be Due to Loud, Horny Fish

A massive orgy under the waves might be filling the homes of Hampshire with an irritating droning that makes it impossible to sleep.

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At first, the residents of Hampshire thought the noise was coming from the docks. The county is situated on the southern coast of Britain, after all, an area often visited by cargo vessels.

Then they formed other hypotheses: It was the sound of industrial machinery. It was irritating neighbors running their washing machines all night long. It was tinnitus. The guesses kept coming, as did the baffling and supremely bothersome noise, which locals described as a low-pitch droning that "literally pulsates through the house," according to a disheartened woman interviewed by the Independent.

After nights of insomnia, people in Hythe took to leaving town in the evening to guarantee a decent night's sleep. But this week, scientists announced they had come to a plausible explanation for the mysterious noise. It's fish, they posit, fish emitting a chorus of mating calls creating the ungodly racket.

The Independent provides the delightful details in this oceanic detective story:

Scientists now think that the noise is being caused by fish, competing to out-hum one another as part of an unusual mating ritual.

Male Midshipman fish let out a deep, resonating drone which attracts females and acts as a challenge to other males. They are nocturnal creatures, but once they get going can keep up the distracting hum all night.

Unfortunately for the residents of Hythe, the noise created by the Midshipman is of such a low frequency and long wavelength that it can carry through the ground, walls, and into homes.

The world can listen to how annoying a horny Midshipman sounds, thanks to fish aficionados on YouTube. It's as if somebody hooked up a tuba to an endless supply of wind:

The U.K. isn't the first place to blame interrupted dreams on aroused fish. Seattleites were shaken last fall by an emphatic humming from the waters, which the media said could be due to fish mmrrrrrms bouncing off of metal ship hulls that acted as amplifiers. According to another account, the sound might've came from "vacuum-type equipment" related to dock operations. To complicate the puzzle, people in New Zealand have also detected a strange kind of droning with no recognizable place.

So where's that leave the southern U.K.? Perhaps waiting for the fish mating season to end, or looking to purchase barrels of Ambien to scatter upon the waves like chum.

Top image: Oleg Golovnev / Shutterstock.com

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