A new study from the University of Bristol has found that noise pollution from human activity is disruptive to schooling behavior in fish.
In order to conduct the study, researchers played back recordings of pile-driving (an activity typical in the construction of marine infrastructure such as wind farms and piers) to schools of sea bass.
They tested 450 individual fish in shoals of four at the aquarium at the University of Bristol.
As the recordings were being played, the researchers noticed that the mini shoals lost cohesion and coordination. This was a dramatic difference from schooling behaviors in the presence of normal ambient sea sounds, which were also recorded and played back for the fish.
In order to track fish movement of both the individual fish and the shoal, researchers used state-of-the-art tracking software.
"This is one of the few studies to explore how pollution from human activity impacts schooling behaviour [sic] in fish...Previous work has mostly focused on the effect of noise on the physiology and behaviour [sic] of individual animals."
The loss of cohesion and coordination in the shoals when the fish were exposed to recordings of human noise pollution suggests that the disruption compromises schooling behaviors and therefore, renders the fish more susceptible to predation.
Now that researchers have established a link between noise pollution and changes in schooling behavior in a controlled environment, they will need to test the relationship under natural conditions.
If you are interested in reading more of the study, you can check it out here.
What do you think of this insight into how our noise affects marine life? Let us know in the comments section!
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