The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

How can humans, in air, hear sound generated underwater (and can goldfish hear their owners talking)?

Leighton, Timothy G. (2012) How can humans, in air, hear sound generated underwater (and can goldfish hear their owners talking)? [in special issue: Part 2 Education in Acoustics] Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 131, (3), pp. 2539-2542. (doi:10.1121/1.3681137).

Record type: Article


The air/water interface at the top of a body of water is often treated from below as a pressure release boundary, which it closely matches. The small discrepancy in that match, however, is enough to enable humans in air to hear sounds generated underwater, which would not be possible across a pressure release boundary. A discussion of this phenomenon, designed for teaching purposes and using no more acoustics than would be contained in a first-year undergraduate syllabus in acoustics, leads to a discussion of whether goldfish can hear their owners speaking. The analysis is then used to illustrate the care needed when comparing sound levels in air and water, a process which continues to lead to erroneous statements in the media and some academic articles.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: March 2012
Organisations: Acoustics Group


Local EPrints ID: 336274
ISSN: 0001-4966
PURE UUID: 5e2c129a-f77b-4e14-a093-b3a793c80991
ORCID for Timothy G. Leighton: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 20 Mar 2012 16:24
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 06:09

Export record


Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.