Offshore exposure experiments on cuttlefish indicate received sound pressure and particle motion levels associated with acoustic trauma

Open Access Peer Reviewed Publication 2017

Scientific Reports

Recent findings on cephalopods in laboratory conditions showed that exposure to artificial noise had a direct consequence on the statocyst, sensory organs, which are responsible for their equilibrium and movements in the water column. The question remained about the contribution of the consequent near-field particle motion influence from the tank walls, to the triggering of the trauma. Offshore noise controlled exposure experiments (CEE) on common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis), were conducted at three different depths and distances from the source and particle motion and sound pressure measurements were performed at each location. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed injuries in statocysts, which severity was quantified and found to be proportional to the distance to the transducer. These findings are the first evidence of cephalopods sensitivity to anthropogenic noise sources in their natural habitat. From the measured received power spectrum of the sweep, it was possible to determine that the animals were exposed at levels ranging from 139 to 142 dB re 1 μPa2 and from 139 to 141 dB re 1 μPa2, at 1/3 octave bands centred at 315 Hz and 400 Hz, respectively. These results could therefore be considered a coherent threshold estimation of noise levels that can trigger acoustic trauma in cephalopods.

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