"If the relatively low intensity, short exposure used in our study can cause such severe acoustic trauma, then the impact of continuous, high intensity noise pollution in the oceans could be considerable," said Andr. "For example, we can predict that, since the statocyst is responsible for balance and spatial orientation, noise-induced damage to this structure would likely affect the cephalopod's ability to hunt, evade predators and even reproduce; in other words, this would not be compatible with life."
The effect of noise pollution on marine life varies according to the proximity of the animal to the activity and the intensity and frequency of the sound. However, with the increase in offshore drilling, cargo ship transportation, excavation and other large-scale, offshore activities, it is becoming more likely that these activities will overlap with migratory routes and areas frequented by marine life.
"We know that noise pollution in the oceans has a significant impact on dolphins and whales because of the vital use of acoustic information of these species," said Andr, "but this is the first study indicating a severe impact on invertebrates, an extended group of marine species that are not known to rely on sound for living. It left us with several questions: Is noise pollution capable of impacting the entire web of ocean life? What other effects is noise having on marine life, beyond damage to auditory reception systems? And just how widespread and invasive is sound pollution in the marine environment?"
|Contact: Nadine Lymn|
Ecological Society of America