There’s something fishy going on here…
Turns out high noise levels and fish? Not such a great combo.
Are those goldfish you bought on a drunken whim looking a bit worse for wear? Floating ominously near to the top of the bowl?
Chances are you should turn the telly – or foghorn – down.
Exeter students can prove that exposing fish to increased noise levels makes them consume less food and show more stress-related behaviour.
The team used controlled laboratory experiments to investigate how the foraging behaviour of sticklebacks and minnows (no, these are not Harry Potter curses) change in response to playbacks of ship noise.
Yes, the humble foghorn is one most common human-generated noises in an aquatic environment that is of growing concern.
The researchers carried out this operation with our scaly friends, the three-spined sticklebacks, who made more foraging errors, whereas European minnows tended to socially interact more often with their companion fish.
So, what does this mean for the world’s lowest maintenance student pet?
Well, for our household pets, decreased food intake in response to noise could impair growth rates, survival and breeding success.
However, Dr Steve Simpson of Biosciences at the University of Exeter, sees things on a much broader scale (pun intended).
He claims: “We are only just scratching the surface on the different ways that human noise can affect different fish species.”
By taking these experiments into the wild he plans to “identify the species and life stages where animals are most affected by different noisy activities.”