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Shaye D Ogurek, William D Halliday, MacKenzie B Woods, Nick Brown, Sigal Balshine, and Francis Juanes (2024)

Boat noise impedes vocalizations of wild plainfin midshipman fish

Marine Pollution.

Marine noise is recognised as a growing threat that can induce maladaptive behavioural changes in many aquatic animals, including fishes. The plainfin midshipman is a soniferous fish with a prolonged breeding period, during which males produce tonal hums that attract females, and grunts and growls during agonistic interactions. In this study, we used acoustic recordings to assess the effects of boat noise on the presence, peak frequencies, and durations of plainfin midshipman calls in the wild. We found that all three call types were less likely to occur, and the peak frequencies of hums and grunts increased in the presence of boat noise. We also show that loud and quiet boat noise affected plainfin midshipman vocalizations similarly. As anthropogenic noise is likely to increase in the ocean, it will be important to understand how such noise can affect communication systems, and consequently population health and resiliency.