The research confirmed that underwater noise does impact anti-predator behaviour in endangered eels, as well as increase stress levels in the eels and European seabass (pictured). Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Stress in fish from noise may be short-lived, new research shows
Two commercially important fish species can rapidly recover from stress attributed to short-term exposure to man-made underwater noise pollution, new research has shown.
The new collaborative study, led by scientists from the University of Exeter, has found that trauma caused by noise attributed to activities such as shipping or resource extraction can be overcome more swiftly than previously thought.
The research confirmed that underwater noise does impact anti-predator behaviour in endangered eels, as well as increase stress levels in the eels and European seabass.
However, the team also discovered that both species showed no long-term adverse effects following exposure to man-made noise pollution in either their behaviourally or physically.
The results suggest the impact on the marine life may be shorter-lied than previously thought.
The research is published in leading scientific journal, Royal Society Open Science, online.
Dr Rick Bruintjes, from the University of Exeter’s Biosciences department explains: “These findings suggest that stopping or lessening noisy human activities can immediately lessen the impacts of man-made underwater noise on fish.
“This is quite different from many other man-made polluters such as global warming or ocean acidification, where the legacy of impacts could last decades or centuries.”
Dr Andy Radford, co-author of the research paper added: “We carried out controlled experiments to first confirm that eels and seabass are negatively affected by underwater noise. Following two minute exposures, we added an extra observational period immediately afterwards to test for recovery or carry over of effects.”
The team, which also includes experts from the University of Bristol, suggest the findings show that with careful management of ocean noise, by choosing when, where and for how long we make noise through activities such as shipping, pile driving and resource extraction, we could give fishes one less pollutant to worry about.
Dr Steve Simpson, also from the University of Exeter added: “Our results demonstrate that noise can negatively affect both eels and seabass but, perhaps more importantly, that the impacts of single short-term noise exposures can dissipate following the noise exposure. Of course if the fish suffers predation, starvation, disease or relocation with prolonged exposure, the impact could be irreversible, but if the noise simply causes stress, then the fish appear to recover quickly.”
Date: 4 February 2016