The Negative Impacts of Marine Noise Pollution on Invertebrates

The Negative Impacts of Marine Noise Pollution on Invertebrates

Contributed by Marielle Grenade-Willis

Hearing is not a capability that necessarily equates to having “ears”. New research suggests that Pacific oysters, with an organ known as a statocyst receptor responsible for sensory balance and equilibrium, is affected by the noise pollution in its waters from cargo ships. Different forms of marine noise pollution like naval sonar systems have been known to affect cetaceans which have been found dead on beaches due to hemorrhaging similar to human decompression sickness. The impact on invertebrates such as oysters has been relatively unknown up until this point. Physiologist, Jean-Charles Massabuau, conducted a tank test on oysters to measure if they were indeed impacted by acoustic blasts, estimating the impact based on the oyster’s level of openness when a sound was emitted. “Massabuau found that the oysters rapidly closed their shells with sound frequencies between 10 to 1000 Hertz. He likens an oyster’s reflexive shutting to the sharp shrug that humans do when startled by an unpleasant sound.”