Scientists Might Have Figured Out Origin Of Mysterious Sound Emanating From Tampa Bay Waters

Sunshine Skyway Bridge in south Tampa Bay

iStockphoto / Sean Pavone

For several years, a sound emanating from the waters in South Tampa Bay have confounded locals. Now, a marine scientist from nearby Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota believes they have cracked the case.

Aliens? Probably not. Rowdy house parties? Some thought so because it’s a deep bass sound, but also unlikely. Dr. James Locascio from Mote Marine thinks the answer is actually pretty obvious: it’s the mating sound of a specific species of fish looking to procreate.

I grew up fishing Tampa Bay and live in Sarasota where Mote Marine is located. They have an interesting exhibit at the aquarium on City Island that’s a wall of pictures and buttons. Each picture shows a distinct species of fish and the corresponding button plays the sound that fish makes underwater. This fish and its sound are well known in the area because the Black Drum produces a very deep thumping bass sound.

FOX 13 Tampa Bay caught wind of this story and ran a report on the evening news:

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Over the New Year’s holiday I was about an hour south of Sarasota on Little Gasparilla Island and did some fishing. We actually caught 5 black drum in about 20 minutes (and 1 snook) while fishing from a dock.

Black Drum fish

Cass Anderson / BroBible

My buddy’s son was convinced at first that we’d caught a sheepshead which looks remarkably like a black drum but it didn’t have teeth that look like human teeth AND, more importantly, the black drum was producing that deep drumming bass sound, the same sound that’s being heard in South Tampa Bay since 2021. Here’s that sound:

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Dr. Locascio from Mote Marine told FOX 13 more about the sound, saying “it’s a low frequency sound, and so they travel much better and go further distances, and they go through dissimilar media more efficiently.”

One resident, Sara Healy, couldn’t make heads or tails of the mysterious Tampa Bay sound. That was until Dr. Locascio played the mating sound of a black drum for her. She said “That’s exactly what I heard. Identical in tone and rhythm.”

More work must be done to confirm that the mysterious Tampa Bay sound is coming from black drum fish but all signs indicate that’s what is happening.


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