The seas around Britain may be getting too noisy. So noisy in fact that fish species such as cod and haddock are having difficulty communicating with each other. If their chatter is being obscured, it could affect their ability to breed at a time when stock numbers are recovering.
It has long been recognised that large marine mammals are susceptible to noise pollution – as are coral reef fish. But the new study intends to understand the impacts on some more familiar UK fish species. Scientists are planning to test the idea by dragging hydrophones through coastal waters to record the marine soundscape.
Cod actually vibrate their swim bladder – a balloon inside them – to make sound and they can create a whole range of different pops, grunts and rumblings. They use this to vocalise at the point of spawning: the male sings and the female then assesses whether the male is any good before she releases her eggs. I think they call it The Eggs-Factor (sorry).
Cod also use sound to navigate, establish territories and warn their group of an immediate threat. These are all activities that could be compromised if the din from shipping, oil and gas exploration and other human-produced noise sources become intolerable.