Shipping Noise- Not Music to Cephalopod’s Ears
It isn’t just cute dolphins and majestic whales who feel the pain from shipping vessel noise. A new study finds that the balancing organs of cephalopods like squid, cuttlefish, and octopuses, can be so badly damaged by this underwater noise pollution that the animal is rendered permanently immobile.
Inspired by the nine giant squid that unexplainably –at the time– washed up on Spanish beaches between 2001 and 2003, scientists from the University of Catalonia in Barcelona Spain, exposed test subjects to low frequency sound for up to two hours; and the results were dramatic. After this short exposure, the majority of the squid stopped moving and fell to the bottom of the tank.
"For the first time we are seeing the effects of noise pollution on species that apparently have no use for sound," said Michel Andre, one of the researchers involved in the experiments. “We were shocked by the magnitude of the trauma,” he added.
It turns out that despite the lack of sound based location in the squid and octopuses, it is the damage of the noise on the statocyst –the organ in the head of the squid responsible for balance and motion– that is just as damaging. To put this damage in context, just imagine being rendered motionless every time some young kid is blasting his music in the car next to you.