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Study Reveals That Fish Flee From the Sharp Noise of Seismic Surveys

Source: Hakai Magazine/Kathleen M. Onorevole - April 18, 2017 in Environment

Study Reveals That Fish Flee From the Sharp Noise of Seismic Surveys
Photo: Bruno de Giusti/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5 IT)

In September 2014, University of North Carolina doctoral candidate Avery Paxton was studying how fish use the reefs off North Carolina when she was told to pack her things and clear out for the week. A different research team was about to start blasting powerful airguns for seismic testing, and it was unsafe for anyone to be in the water.

As they packed up to depart, Paxton and her colleagues decided to take advantage of the situation and launch an opportunistic study. They left a few choice pieces of technology on the reef: video cameras and acoustic recorders.

“When you think of seismic testing, you often think of the impact to marine mammals,” Paxton says. Scientists have shown that seismic airguns—used for oil and gas exploration, as well as geological research—can interfere with marine mammal communication. “But I’m a reef biologist, so I’d always wondered, ‘What about the fish?’”

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