Noise pollution increases stress levels of fish and make them easy prey for predators.
Noise pollution can prove extremely dangerous for marine life especially to fish.
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According to new research, motorboat noise doubles predator’s chances of catching fish. The noise from passing motorboats increases the stress levels in young coral reef fish which disrupts their ability to escape from predators and makes their survival difficult. Predators, on the other hand, receive an extra advantage and easily capture their prey.
This is the first study to look at noise pollution and its effects on fish survival in a real environment.
“We found that when real boats were motoring near to young damselfish in open water, they became stressed and were six times less likely to startle to simulated predator attacks compared to fish tested without boat nearby.” Dr Stephen Simpson, a lecturer at University of Exeter and lead author of the study said.
A team of international researchers including University of Bristol have conducted both laboratory and field experiments to test the impact of motorboat noise on the condition of Ambon damselfish at the time when its natural predator dusky dottyback fish was lurking in the water. Researchers found that stress and poor responses make the fish easy prey for predators.
Ambon damselfish is a fish species that is the most commonly found in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
“If you go to the Great Barrier Reef, there is a lot of noise from motorboats in some places. But unlike many pollutants we can more easily control noise,” said Simpson. “We can choose when and where we make it, and with new technologies, we can make less noise. For example, we could create marine quiet zones or buffer zones and avoid known sensitive areas or times of years when juveniles are abundant.”
By mitigating noise pollution, the marine environment can be protected to a great extent. It will eventually help to cope with greater threats like global warming and increased ocean acidity.
Co-author Dr Mark Meekan from Australian Institute of Marine Science says. “You might argue that climate change is a bigger threat to reel life, but if can reduce the effect of local noise pollution we build greater resilience in reef communities to looming threats such as global warming and ocean acidification.”