Anthropogenic noise is a significant pollutant of the world’s oceans, affecting behavioural and physiological traits in a range of species, including anti-predator behaviours. Using the open field test, we investigated the effects of recordings of piling and drilling noise on the anti-predator behaviour of captive juvenile European seabass in response to a visual stimulus (a predatory mimic). The impulsive nature of piling noise triggered a reflexive startle response, which contrasted the behaviour elicited by the continuous drilling noise. When presented with the predatory mimic, fish exposed to both piling and drilling noise explored the experimental arena more extensively than control fish exposed to ambient noise. Fish under drilling and piling conditions also exhibited reduced predator inspection behaviour. Piling and drilling noise induced stress as measured by ventilation rate. This study provides further evidence that the behaviour and physiology of European seabass is significantly affected by exposure to elevated noise levels.
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