Sound may affect fish despite some claims to the contrary
IFCNR - Fisheries Committee
3rd July 2003
Of the more than 7000 Internet articles on the issue of the effect of low frequency sonar on marine life, barely a handful contain information other than a blanket condemnation of Navy or other human sources of “marine noise” as detrimental to the lives of marine mammals and fish.
A recent article in the June 30th edition of The Scientist suggests perhaps the emphasis of such articles may be missing an important aspect of sea life.
Researchers at the University of York and the University of Kentucky set out to find the how and why of clown fish juveniles settling on reef-homes after swimming into the deep.
Sounds – pops, bangs, whoops and crackles – traditionally emanating from coral reef life appear to be the answer.
To determine the effect of sound, marine biologists Stephen Simpson and Hong Yang serenaded clown fish embryos in a soundproof chamber with a variety of sounds.
When the “marine music” approximated the natural sounds coming from a coral reef, they observed the embryos’ heart rate increased. Carrying their work to Australia’s Lizard Island, the two created “silent” and “noisy” reefs.
Six times more fish came to the reefs with loudspeakers playing “reef music” leading the biologists to speculate that natural sounds may play a powerful role in marine life.