Male gators attracted to tuba's B flat

June 8, 2007 at 2:29 PM
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KISSIMMEE, Fla., June 8 (UPI) -- Mating Florida alligators respond to the note of B flat -- at least when played on a tuba through the wood of a boardwalk.

At least that's what a Tampa Tribune reporter discovered in an attempt to replicate a 1944 experiment, "Response of Captive Alligators to Auditory Stimulation," conducted at the Museum of Natural History in New York.

The Tribune experiment was conducted at Gatorland, a tourist attraction near Kissimmee with some help from William Mickelsen, the Florida Orchestra's star tuba player, and one of his students.

The group discovered alligators swam toward the sound when Mickelsen and John Banther played a sustained low B flat. When the players got down on the boardwalk and played through the wood, the male alligators echoed the sound.

Mating male alligators are famously noisy, bellowing and roaring in the swamps in the spring. Tim Williams, an alligator wrangler who guided the group, said he has also heard them respond to the noise of close-up airboats and to the sound of the space shuttle passing over Gatorland during landings at Cape Canaveral.

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