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Pesky cats in the mood for sex are the bane of urban neighbourhoods, especially when they choose to make annoying noise to attract other felines, keeping many residents wide awake because of the ruckus created.

However, in Southampton, Hampshire, what keeps residents awake are not cats, but the favourite meal of felines - fish. The Telegraph reports that resident who live near the waters are complaining of lack of sleep because of pulsating noise that begins at about 10 pm.

Some residents initially thought it was a neighbour's washing machine or dishwasher running late at night.


Scientists explain the sound to fish seeking sex in the estuary near Hythe. They said the midshipman male fish lets out a distinctive sound by using its swim bladder to let the female fish knew they are seeking a mate.

The noise gets louder because competing male fish attempt to outhum other fish. To make matters worse for residents, the sound is amplified since it bounces off buildings and ships.

Some residents have moved out of the area in frustration over lost sleep. Doctors noted the surge in number of people asking for sleeping tablets prescription, prompting the New Forest District Council and the Environment Agency to initiate in the earlier part of October a joint investigation to identify the cause of the persistent humming sound.

Southampton's National Oceanography Centre failed to provide any explanation for the annoying noise, but the Scottish Association for Marine Science said the buzzing sound is from fish seeking a mate.

A similar phenomenon has been observed in Seattle in the U.S., also attributed to the Midshipman fish from the nearby Duwarmish waterway heard by nearby residents.