Juvenile Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, were exposed to simulated high intensity pile driving signals to evaluate their ability to recover from barotrauma injuries. Fish were exposed to one of two cumulative sound exposure levels for 960 pile strikes (217 or 210 dB re 1 µPa2·s SELcum; single strike sound exposure levels of 187 or 180 dB re 1 µPa2·s SELss respectively). This was followed by an immediate assessment of injuries, or assessment 2, 5, or 10 days post-exposure. There were no observed mortalities from the pile driving sound exposure. Fish exposed to 217 dB re 1 µPa2·s SELcum displayed evidence of healing from injuries as post-exposure time increased. Fish exposed to 210 dB re 1 µPa2·s SELcum sustained minimal injuries that were not significantly different from control fish at days 0, 2, and 10. The exposure to 210 dB re 1 µPa2·s SELcum replicated the findings in a previous study that defined this level as the threshold for onset of injury. Furthermore, these data support the hypothesis that one or two Mild injuries resulting from pile driving exposure are unlikely to affect the survival of the exposed animals, at least in a laboratory environment.
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