The noise that’s caused by boats disrupts orientation behaviour in larval coral reef fish — preventing them from finding their way home, according to new research from the University of Bristol, the University of Exeter, and the University of Liège.
Image Credit: Reef via Flickr CCUniversity of Bristol press release explains how the research was done:
The study used controlled field experiments with settlement stage coral reef fish larvae. Larvae in a long plastic tube could decide to swim towards or away from a speaker playing back different sounds. In ambient noise equal numbers of fish were found in each section of the tube and in reef noise most fish swam towards the sound. But when boat noise was played along with reef noise more fish swam away from the sound than in reef noise alone.
Co-author, Dr Andy Radford from the University of Bristol, said: “This is the first indication that noise pollution can affect orientation behaviour during the critical settlement stage. Growing evidence for the impact of noise on fish suggests that consideration should be given to the regulation of human activities in protected areas.”
The research is published in Marine Ecology Progress Series.