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Motorboat noise makes fish more vulnerable, a study found

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In what seems like the first evidence of the direct impact of noise pollution on marine life, a study has found that the motor boat noise renders fishes less responsive, making them an easy catch for predators. When motorboats pass by, the noise causes stress levels in young coral reef fish to increase and this affects their ability to flee, the study says.

Young Ambon damselfish was the subject of the study and their encounter with their natural predator the dusky dotty back in the presence and absence of motorboat noise was observed. The research team used playbacks and real boat noise for this purpose.

“We found that when real boats were motoring near to young damselfish in open water, they became stressed and were six times less likely to startle to simulated predator attacks compared to fish tested without boats nearby” says Stephen Simpson a marine biologist from University of Exeter.

The research team hopes the study will pave the way for more concerted efforts on noise management and they believe noise pollution is easier to control than other types of pollution

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