Noise from motorboats makes fish bad parents

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Noise from motorboats makes fish bad parents

June 11, 2017 - 10:40
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It seems that whales aren't the only ones affected by motorboat noise. Fish are at risk as well, and not in a good way.

Scientists from University of Exeter discovered that the noise from motorboats bothered coral fish so much that their parental behaviour was changed and the male fish stopped protecting, feeding and interacting with their young.

Calling the noise a global pollutant, the marine biologists explained that the noise distracted the parents and caused them to be unable to properly care and protect their young from predators.

The team based their conclusions on observations made over 12 days of 38 natural nests of fish in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. During this time, they played recordings of ambient sounds and motorboat noise, and then observed the impact they had on the behaviour of the parent fish.

The fish exposed to motorboat noise spent more time chasing and making aggressive strikes at other fish, compared to the males exposed to ambient sound. According to the scientists, the fish were either stressed or distracted by the motorboat noise, and this led them to attack fish that were not a threat. This in turn meant that the male fish spent less time near their nests, leaving their offspring vulnerable to attacks.

Dr Steve Simpson, Associate Professor in Marine Biology & Global Change, said, "This study raises important implications for managing the noise of the 100,000s of motorboats used around the world in coral reef environments. We are now considering acoustic quiet zones and corridors, and exploring how engine and propeller development can reduce the impact of this globally prevalent pollutant."

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