Hydrophone recordings: farting plants & screeching beetles

In June 2014 I took my hydrophones to a likely looking lake and started fishing for sound. It already being past the explosion of life that is spring I wasn’t sure if I’d encounter much pond dwelling activity underneath the surface, but it turned out I did not need to worry. As soon as I threw the mics in the water, a previously hidden world of sonic richness came to the fore, full of surprising little clicks, squeaks and screeches originating from water beetles and plants.

Headphones are recommended to appreciate all the subtle and quiet detail in the following recordings.


The almost creature-like pitch bending whine that you can hear in the left channel from the start of this recording is a plant letting off gas – a plant farting, yes. A fancier way of putting it is that this is somewhat ‘the sound of photosynthesis’, as oxygen is released as a waste product during the photosynthesis procedure.

Throughout the recording you can also hear a large variety of squeaks, whines, clicks and screeches from all sorts of water insects. One such example is in the right channel at approximately 17 seconds in, pretty quiet but it’s there if you pay attention, and it repeats throughout the recording. I’m not sure what creature produces this sound.


At 1:53 there’s a more clearly audible short squeak, which I believe is from a beetle. It’s repeated shortly thereafter at 1:55, followed by a series of softer and faster vocalisations. There’s a few more later on as well, making it seem as if this beetle clearly had something to say, but god knows what.




I find this a really interesting ambient recording of The Pond Life, though what it is that we are listening to I do not know. It’s almost sci-fi or telemetry-like in its repetitive, electronic sounding clicks, which is something that often happens with hydrophone recordings. Overall, a dense layer of clicks which I find quite relaxing, a little bit like listening to an insect chorus from another planet.




This one sounds a bit like an alien frog chorus… There’s a cute little squeal that repeats irregularly throughout the recording which I think is another water beetle. What the frog-like sounds are I don’t know, but I’ve been told that some of the clicking sounds are fish feeding.

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