Marine Scotland

New report published on the hearing of salmon

March 22, 2016 by No Comments

Underwater noise in the sea has the potential to affect marine animals, including fish.

A new report published by Marine Scotland Science, Measurement of Hearing in the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) using Auditory Evoked Potentials, and effects of Pile Driving Playback on salmon Behaviour and Physiology, describes measurements of the hearing capability of salmon in experimental aquaria, and of their response to play-backs of pile driving noise.

Anthropogenic (human-generated) noise is widespread in aquatic environments and is increasing in prevalence and intensity. Aquatic noise-generating activities include high intensity air guns used for seismic exploration, chronic low-frequency noise from shipping, and noise produced during construction and operation of offshore energy installations. The noise produced during such activities is very different to sounds that typically arise from natural sources.

The continued development of Marine Renewable Energy Devices in Scottish coastal waters is recognised as an important step in the UK’s drive for clean, low carbon energy and the unavoidable noise caused by such developments, principally pile driving used in the construction of offshore wind farms, has raised concerns about the potential impact of noise on sensitive marine species.

In experiments carried out with salmon in captivity to determine their hearing capabilities, they appear to have hearing abilities that generally concur with previous studies.  In addition, salmon showed little behavioural response to pile driving noise. There was no clear startle response, and no clear avoidance behaviour. Equally, there was no evidence of physiological response through change active metabolic rate or oxygen consumption rate.

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