Image: Motorised tugboat
Original Published Date: 
Friday, February 5, 2016

A pioneering new study shows that the rate fish are captured by predators can double when boats are motoring nearby. Professor Mark McCormick from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University was part of an international research team that found noise from passing motorboats increases stress levels in young coral reef fish and reduces their ability to flee from predators. As a consequence they are captured more easily and their survival chances are halved. It’s the first study to show that real-world noise can have a direct consequence on fish survival. “It shows that juvenile fish become distracted and stressed when exposed to motorboat noise and predators capitalise on their indecision,” said Professor McCormick. The team hope the findings will inspire better environmental noise management in coastal areas.

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Image courtesy of Tuger Akkaya at