Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Human noise pollution in ocean can lead fish away from good habitats and off to their death

Date:
August 13, 2010
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
The growing amount of human noise pollution in the ocean could lead fish away from good habitat and off to their death.

A damselfish swims around a coral reef.
Credit: Steve Simpson

The growing amount of human noise pollution in the ocean could lead fish away from good habitat and off to their death, according to new research from a UK-led team working on the Great Barrier Reef.

Related Articles


After developing for weeks at sea, baby tropical fish rely on natural noises to find the coral reefs where they can survive and thrive. However, the researchers found that short exposure to artificial noise makes fish become attracted to inappropriate sounds.

In earlier research, Dr Steve Simpson, Senior Researcher in the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences discovered that baby reef fish use sounds made by fish, shrimps and sea urchins as a cue to find coral reefs. With human noise pollution from ships, wind farms and oil prospecting on the increase, he is now concerned that this crucial behaviour is coming under threat.

He said: "When only a few weeks old, baby reef fish face a monumental challenge in locating and choosing suitable habitat. Reef noise gives them vital information, but if they can learn, remember and become attracted towards the wrong sounds, we might be leading them in all the wrong directions."

Using underwater nocturnal light traps, Dr Simpson and his team collected baby damselfish as they were returning to coral reefs. The fish were then put into tanks with underwater speakers playing natural reef noise or a synthesised mix of pure tones. The next night the fish were put into specially designed choice chambers (long tubes with contrasting conditions at each end in which fish can move freely towards the end they prefer) with natural or artificial sounds playing. All the fish liked the reef noise, but only the fish that had experienced the tone mix swam towards it, the others were repelled by it.

Dr Simpson said: "This result shows that fish can learn a new sound and remember it hours later, debunking the 3-second memory myth."

His collaborator, Dr Mark Meekan added: "It also shows that they can discriminate between sounds and, based on their experience, become attracted to sounds which might really mess up their behaviour on the most important night of their life."

In noisy environments the breakdown of natural behaviour could have devastating impacts on success of populations and the replenishment of future fish stocks.

Dr Simpson said: "Anthropogenic noise has increased dramatically in recent years, with small boats, shipping, drilling, pile driving and seismic testing now sometimes drowning out the natural sounds of fish and snapping shrimps. If fish accidentally learn to follow the wrong sounds, they could end up stuck next to a construction site or follow a ship back out to sea."

The study is published in Behavioral Ecology and was carried out at Lizard Island Research Station. The work was supported with a fellowship for Dr Simpson from the UK Natural Environment Research Council and by the Australian Institute of Marine Science for Dr Mark Meekan.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stephen D. Simpson, Mark G. Meekan, Nicholas J. Larsen, Robert D. McCauley, and Andrew Jeffs. Behavioral plasticity in larval reef fish: orientation is influenced by recent acoustic experiences. Behavioral Ecology, 2010; 21 (5): 1098 DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arq117

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Human noise pollution in ocean can lead fish away from good habitats and off to their death." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803212015.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2010, August 13). Human noise pollution in ocean can lead fish away from good habitats and off to their death. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803212015.htm
University of Bristol. "Human noise pollution in ocean can lead fish away from good habitats and off to their death." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803212015.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins