Hey, Keep It Down Up There!

By Susan Aiello • Published: November 1st, 2011
Category: Animal Airwaves

Like the drip, drip of a leaky faucet, background noise can irritate and increase stress. For fish, annoying noise is often the steady chug of barges or the continuous whine of a wind farm.

Research has shown that loud sounds such as pile drivers may negatively impact sea life, but now the focus has shifted to softer, but relentless, human racket.

Scientists fear that a steady undersea din might drown out communication and mask sounds that fish use to hunt or evade predators. Stress from noise may also chase fish from spawning grounds or other natural meeting places.

The problem is difficult to study without artificially influencing fish behavior. But with the help of high-tech gadgets and a little ingenuity, marine biologists are developing ways to test the effects of noise in natural habitats. Chalk one up for Jacques Cousteau.