Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Bam! The sound is easily heard by the first 20 rows of fans cheering wildly in the 11th inning of a tie game between the Miami Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Thwump! A speed-of-sound vibration courses through a 250-gallon tropical marine aquarium embedded in a cement wall that's located between third base and home plate. A dirty smudge persists, like an erasable tattoo, on the bulletproof glass from the loud impact of the 95-mile-an-hour foul tip.
The place is the shiny new Marlins South Florida Park, home to the National League's Miami Marlins. Despite protests from animal welfare activists, animal behaviorists and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the ballpark is set to open with two large saltwater aquariums full of tropical fish, crabs, snails, sea urchins, sea stars and a host of other creatures native to the Caribbean and the western Atlantic Ocean.
Your initial knee-jerk reaction to this might be, “Are you kidding me? Ornamental fish on display in a busy, loud and perhaps even dangerous ballpark? What about all the noise? And bats and balls hitting the glass? Or unruly fans spilling beer and who knows what else near the aquariums?”
You wouldn’t be alone.
Now let’s remove the emotion from the discussion and review the evidence-based data that we can apply to the situation. As you might imagine, the scientific literature isn't rich with papers about how flying baseballs, screaming fans and nighttime game lights can impact tropical marine fish and invertebrates. But there are some articles and data that can be applied.
Fish don’t possess external ear openings, but they can detect sounds quite effectively. Many fish species, like grunts, croakers and drums produce sounds as a means of communication or warning. Certain taxonomic groups of fish, such as cyprinids (minnows, carps, shiners, danios), are more sensitive to sounds than other groups, like percids (perch).
Disturbing noises can apparently affect immune function in rainbow trout. A 1994 study identified decreased white blood cell activity in trout exposed to confinement and prolonged noise. Researchers examining the impact of motorized boat racing on wild fish in an Austrian lake found that largemouth bass can also become stressed — showing a markedly elevated heart rate and increased cardiac output — when exposed to boating noises. Certain fish were even able to detect and react to watercraft that were up to several hundred meters away.
It seems clear that fish can not only pick up on noises, but the disturbances can have at least a temporary negative effect, especially if the sounds punctuate the status quo of background noise and vibrations.
Underwater ship noise in two Austrian lakes and the Danube River led to increased plasma cortisol levels (an indicator of stress) in several fish species — but the same fish did not appear to be affected when exposed to Gaussian (random or background) noise. This may explain why fish living in more traditional captive environments, like aquariums and ponds, can survive — and even thrive — despite constant noise from pumps, aerators, filtration equipment, crowds, loudspeaker announcements and even music.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Firefighters in Pennsylvania found two
dogs standing on the second floor of their
home a day after it burned.
Take some of the stress out of your next
veterinary visit by following Dr. Patty
Khuly's list of waiting room…
Have you been avoiding caring for your
cat or dog’s teeth? These essential tips
will help you get back on track.
We asked veterinary professionals which
human foods they give their dogs, from
carrots and apples to pizza and…
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your
lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down
more than 300 breeds for you.
No one wants his best friend to be sick in the car. Dr. Andy Roark (literally) reveals the many signs of motion…
In his home country of Thailand, the intelligent and attention-loving Korat is a living symbol of luck and prosperity.
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.