Anthropogenic (man-made) sounds may cause a physiological stress response in fishes. Imagine a loud firecracker going off near you. When you are startled, your heart rate may increase and your body may produce certain chemicals that alert you that danger may be near. Humans and other organisms exposed to sound may show changes in stress levels. Physiological stress responses in fishes to anthropogenic sounds have not been documented in the wild and have only been directly studied in two laboratory experiments.
In a laboratory, goldfish were exposed to continuous sounds at 170 underwater dB and their stress response was measured using corticosteroid levels. No significant increases in corticosteroid concentrations were found in fishes exposed to the high levels of sound. This study is likely the first attempt at investigating the effects of anthropogenic sound on the physiological stress response of a fish species using corticosteroid level--a common indicator of stress. Additional studies need to be conducted on other fish species to further understand if there is a relationship between human generated sound and the physiological condition of fishes.
- Hastings, M.C. and Popper, A.N. 2005, "Effects of Sound on Fish." Technical report for Jones and Stokes to California Department of Transportation, Sacramento, CA. (Link)
- Popper, A.N. 2003, "Effects of anthropogenic sounds on fishes." Fisheries 28(10): 24-31.
- Smith, M.E., Kane, A.S. and Popper, A.N. 2004, "Noise-induced stress response and hearing loss in goldfish (Carassius auratus)" Journal of Experimental Biology 207: 427-435.
- Wysocki, L.E., Dittami, J.P., and Ladich, F. 2006, "Ship noise and cortisol secretion in European freshwater fishes." Biological Conservation 128(2006): 501-508.