How Does Noise Affect Fish?

Written by on April 2, 2013 in Fish, Technology
The arrays are being used in a fish pen to study how herring (pictured) react to sound.

The arrays are being used in a fish pen to study how herring (pictured) react to sound. Photo credit: @boetter via photopin cc

Noise pollution from human activities such as boating, construction and even fishing is impacting the ocean. Many researchers are studying how these noises are affecting marine life. Most research is focused on marine mammals, as many of them rely on sonar and other noise for communication and survival. However, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is working with Chelsea Technologies Group (CTG) to create an acoustic hydrophone array that will help researchers from the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) in Bergen study the effects that underwater noise has on fish.

Nils Olav Handegard from the IMR explained to MST in an email that “there are several groups starting to work on fish, but the topic has attracted a lot less attention than marine mammals.”

“Chelsea has been working with NTNU for a number of years”, CTG’s acoustics specialist Paul Bolton said in a press release. “They initially commissioned us to custom design a 6m vertical acoustic hydrophone array in order to conduct novel underwater acoustic experiments. This was followed by the design of three 8m long, active hydrophone arrays. These arrays are now being used to map the sound field inside a fish pen.”

Because studying how fish react to sound isn’t the most popular topic, we don’t yet know which species will be the most susceptible.

“Some species have evolved more sophisticated sound reception and sound communication abilities,” Nils explained to MST. “This may be indicative of how susceptible these species are to the effect of noise pollution. However, the long term impact on fish is difficult to assess…”

In addition to assessing behavioral changes induced by sound, the researchers will also look at the relative importance of sound stimuli compared to other sensory inputs.

This is CTG's 8m long, oil filled array, designed to be deployed to depths of 100 metres. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Technologies Group.

This is CTG’s 8m long, oil filled array, designed to be deployed to depths of 100 metres. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Technologies Group.

Also, be sure to visit Chelsea Technologies Group at Ocean Business if you’re in the area! It starts a week from today on April 9.

To learn more:

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. She is also a PADI diver and dog lover. .

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