Underwater noise pollution caused by construction and development is stressing out fish and preventing them from properly escaping predators.
By Jacob Dubé | MOTHERBOARD
In a study published Thursday, researchers from Newcastle University in the UK found that when they exposed European seabass to recorded sounds of drilling and piling (sticking large stakes in the ground as a foundation for structures), the fish showed increased signs of stress. Many coastal countries, including Canada, are struggling with this: On the British Columbia coast, there’s been concern among environmentalists that noise pollution related to Kinder Morgan’s planned pipeline and the increased marine traffic that come with it could drivesome endangered species of whales extinct.
„Over the last few decades, the sea has become a very noisy place,“ lead researcher Ilaria Spiga said in a statement. In this study, which focused on European seabass specifically, „effects we saw were subtle changes, which may well have the potential to disrupt the seabass‘ ability to remain ‚in tune‘ with its environment.“
For these fish, the constant underwater cacophony can cause problems when it comes to predators. According to the study, seabass typically use a method called „startle and response,“ where they hear an unusual sound, get frightened, and then escape from potential predatory danger. But being exposed to a loud ambient noise would make it harder to properly discern and react to an approaching predator.