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Evaluating the impact of noise pollution on scallops

FEB 17, 2023
Marine invertebrates, often overlooked when evaluating noise pollution, can suffer from nearby shipping and construction.
Evaluating the impact of noise pollution on scallops internal name

Evaluating the impact of noise pollution on scallops lead image

Underwater noise pollution from human sources can be devastating to marine life, disrupting habitats and interfering with communications. Most research on the effects of underwater noise, however, has been conducted on marine mammals and fish. It is less clear what the impacts are on invertebrates. Understanding what sounds these animals are sensitive to and how they respond is critical to evaluating the impacts of noise pollution.

Jézéquel et al. subjected scallops to a range of sound amplitudes and frequencies and studied the resulting responses. Their results comprise some of the only sound response data collected for this class of marine invertebrate.

“Marine invertebrates are an often-overlooked taxon when it comes to underwater sound research,” said author Youenn Jézéquel. “Although interest in this group is growing there is still a paucity of information surrounding how they interact with the auditory environment.”

Scallops respond to stress, including noise, by closing their valves, and the authors measured that response in the presence of different noises. They found the strongest responses were to low-frequency sounds below 200 Hz. Juvenile scallops exhibited a greater response than adults, suggesting growing scallops are especially vulnerable to sound.

Being constantly subjected to noise means scallops are constantly closing their valves, expending energy and reducing their oxygen intake. While further research is needed to quantify the effect this has on scallop populations, noise pollution likely stunts their growth and leaves them vulnerable to predators.

The authors are now focusing on studying the range of noise impact on scallops in field-based experiments.

“These results will be important for offshore wind farm constructions occurring within the same areas as scallop populations,” said Jézéquel.

Source: “Sound sensitivity of the giant scallop (Placopecten magelanicus) is life stage, intensity, and frequency dependent,” by Youenn Jézéquel, Seth Cones, and T. Aran Mooney, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (2023). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0017171 .

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