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LEAPING REVELERS PAY HOMAGE TO TOADFISH

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Revelers dressed as sea monsters and playing kazoos held the second annual festival in honor of the humming toadfish, the underwater lovers who torment residents each summer with their rhapsodizing.

"We figured if we can't beat 'em, join 'em," said newly crowned Toadfish King Phil Frank, a cartoonist whose coronation was accompanied by kazoo music, the sound residents say is most like the love sputters of the toadfish.Frank then led the dancing, leaping revelers along the dock Sunday as they played "Yes, We Have No Bananas" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

The festival started a year ago after sleepless residents demanded to know the source of the noise that plagues the bayside town north of San Francisco for three months each summer.

The cry of the bulging-eyed, bubble-lipped creatures, a noise some likened to the sound of B-52 bombers, usually starts after dusk and lasts for hours, sometimes until 2 or 3 a.m.

Residents at first advanced a number of theories, which Frank, a 17-year resident of the town, lampooned in his comic strip "Farley," which appears in a San Francisco newspaper.

Some held the CIA was pumping nerve gas into the San Francisco Bay. Others claimed a Japanese ship loaded with electric massagers sank in the bay's waters and lost its cargo, which buzzed on.

A phone call to John McCosker, director of the Steinhart Aquarium, led to the discovery that the noise was not manmade. It seems that every summer sometime in June, the humming toadfish migrate to Sausalito's Richardson Bay and emit the noise during their two- to three-month mating season. The sound particularly reverberates through the cement foundations of houseboats.