Noise Pollution In The Arctic Scares Cod From Feeding Grounds, Study Finds

As per a newly released report, the noise that shipping vessels make while passing through northern Canadian waters is actually scaring Arctic cod away from their feeding grounds, which leads to them sacrificing much of their foraging time.

Noise Pollution

Included in the April edition of Ecological Applications, the findings of the study are cause for concern mainly because the melting Arctic ice directly caused by climate change means that more ships will now be chartering the region, which would then make more noise pollution that would drive fishes away. The study is also the first  to gauge just how much shipping noises can affect fish in the Arctic, what with scientists previously reporting that the noise pollution have negative effects on other marine animals such as beaked whales and porpoises.

“The results were staggering. Fish are known to use sound for foraging, avoiding predators, navigating and communicating, and noise pollution could threaten those behaviors. Hearing is more important to fish than we realize,” Aaron Fisk, a biologist at the University of Windsor in Canada, said.

The observations were made after Fisk and his colleagues used cameras back in 2012 to record ship locations and compare it with the fish location data that they have. From there, they discovered that cod stayed in one area of a 30-meter-deep depression in the bay when no ships are present. However, they would abandon this when ships start passing by, meaning that they spend more energy swimming.

“It’s likely marine mammals are keyed into those times. If shipping activity disrupts the schools that will cascade down to seals, whales, polar bears and the Inuit who use those mammals as a food source,” Fisk noted, saying that the noise pollution can affect their open-water feeding behavior. Unfortunately, shipping traffic in the area is expected to grow, what with the Arctic ice continuing to melt, since it provides a more direct route between North America and Asia through the Northwest Passage.

Per experts, the Arctic is also facing other threats, which includes warming ocean waters, the loss of sea ice and exposure to oil from drilling.

antarctica-3883212_960_720 A station in the Antarctica. Photos by Pixabay (CC0)