Oceanic noise pollution causes problems with invertebrates too.

The effects of noise pollution in the oceans, such as from powerful sonars that can make dolphins go deaf, are still being uncovered by researchers. The latest victims are squids and octopuses (including the ‘cheeky’ ones…), which are affected by low-frequency soundwaves produced by human offshore activities…

André and colleagues also found that, immediately following exposure to low frequency sound, the cephalopods showed hair cell damage within the statocysts. Over time, nerve fibers became swollen and, eventually, large holes appeared — these lesions became gradually more pronounced in individuals that were examined several hours after exposure. In other words, damage to the cephalopods’ auditory systems emerged immediately following exposure to short, low intensity sweeps of low frequency sound. All of the individuals exposed to the sound showed evidence of acoustic trauma, compared with unexposed individuals that did not show any damage. (source)

And this trauma isn’t just affecting hearing. The damaged statocyst is responsible for balance and spatial orientation. This means that damage would likely affect the cephalopod’s ability to hunt, evade predators and even reproduce. In the researcher’s words: “this would not be compatible with life.”

The study is the first to show severe impact from noise pollution on invertebrate species (we already knew about mammals like whales and dolphins), and sadly, because there is now more offshore activities like drilling for oil, shipping, etc, this impact is likely to continue.

Via Science Daily

Photo: Wikipedia, CC