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Last Updated: Wednesday March 16 2005 16:07 GMT

Bottom burping keeps fish talking

Fish can't speak to each other underwater, but some of them seem to be keeping in touch by farting.

Dr Bob Batty spotted a group of herring swallowing air then releasing it from a small hole near their tail, although the air is nothing to do with food.

He said: "These little bubbles ... they only do it in company - if they are alone they don't do it."

Dr Batty added: "You put two together and they do it occasionally and it increases the more there are."

But the scientists also said the release of bubbles could be helping the fish control how deep they're swimming or may even be anti-predator tricks.

Dr Batty's work has won a special prize called the Ig Nobel that rewards science that makes people laugh.

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