eCite Digital Repository

Widely used marine seismic survey air gun operations negatively impact zooplankton


McCauley, RD and Day, RD and Swadling, KM and Fitzgibbon, QP and Watson, RA and Semmens, JM, Widely used marine seismic survey air gun operations negatively impact zooplankton, Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1 Article 0195. ISSN 2397-334X (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0195


Zooplankton underpin the health and productivity of global marine ecosystems. Here we present evidence that suggests seismic surveys cause significant mortality to zooplankton populations. Seismic surveys are used extensively to explore for petroleum resources using intense, low-frequency, acoustic impulse signals. Experimental air gun signal exposure decreased zooplankton abundance when compared with controls, as measured by sonar (∼3-4dB drop within 15-30min) and net tows (median 64% decrease within 1h), and caused a two- to threefold increase in dead adult and larval zooplankton. Impacts were observed out to the maximum 1.2km range sampled, which was more than two orders of magnitude greater than the previously assumed impact range of 10m. Although no adult krill were present, all larval krill were killed after air gun passage. There is a significant and unacknowledged potential for ocean ecosystem function and productivity to be negatively impacted by present seismic technology.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:zooplankton, seismic survey, air guns, krill, ecosystem, acoustic impulse signals, larval, mortality
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Aquaculture and fisheries stock assessment
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Day, RD (Dr Ryan Day)
UTAS Author:Swadling, KM (Associate Professor Kerrie Swadling)
UTAS Author:Fitzgibbon, QP (Associate Professor Quinn Fitzgibbon)
UTAS Author:Watson, RA (Professor Reginald Watson)
UTAS Author:Semmens, JM (Professor Jayson Semmens)
ID Code:117696
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:66
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2017-06-24
Last Modified:2018-03-20
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page