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An experimental sound exposure study at sea: no spatial deterrence of free-ranging pelagic fish
Hubert, J.; Demuynck, J.M.; Remmelzwaal, M.R.; Muñiz, C.; Debusschere, E.; Berges, B.; Slabbekoorn, H. (2024). An experimental sound exposure study at sea: no spatial deterrence of free-ranging pelagic fish. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 155(2): 1151-1161. https://dx.doi.org/10.1121/10.0024720
In: The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. American Institute of Physics: New York. ISSN 0001-4966; e-ISSN 1520-8524, more
Related to:
Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) (2024). Multipurpose seabed moorings: Developed for coastal dynamic seas. Oceanography Suppl. : In prep., more
Peer reviewed article  

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Authors  Top 
  • Hubert, J., more
  • Demuynck, J.M.
  • Remmelzwaal, M.R.
  • Muñiz, C., more
  • Debusschere, E., more
  • Berges, B.
  • Slabbekoorn, H.


    Acoustic deterrent devices are used to guide aquatic animals from danger or toward migration paths. At sea, moderate sounds can potentially be used to deter fish to prevent injury or death due to acoustic overexposure. In sound exposure studies, acoustic features can be compared to improve deterrence efficacy. In this study, we played 200–1600 Hz pulse trains from a drifting vessel and investigated changes in pelagic fish abundance and behavior by utilizing echosounders and hydrophones mounted to a transect of bottom-moored frames. We monitored fish presence and tracked individual fish. This revealed no changes in fish abundance or behavior, including swimming speed and direction of individuals, in response to the sound exposure. We did find significant changes in swimming depth of individually tracked fish, but this could not be linked to the sound exposures. Overall, the results clearly show that pelagic fish did not flee from the current sound exposures, and we found no clear changes in behavior due to the sound exposure. We cannot rule out that different sounds at higher levels elicit a deterrence response; however, it may be that pelagic fish are just more likely to respond to sound with (short-lasting) changes in school formation.

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