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Widely used marine seismic survey air gun operations negatively impact zooplankton

Citation

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

Abstract

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 and Veterinary Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries Sciences
Research Field:Aquatic Ecosystem Studies and Stock Assessment
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Objective Field:Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
Author:Day, RD (Dr Ryan Day)
Author:Swadling, KM (Dr Kerrie Swadling)
Author:Fitzgibbon, QP (Dr Quinn Fitzgibbon)
Author:Watson, RA (Professor Reginald Watson)
Author:Semmens, JM (Associate Professor Jayson Semmens)
ID Code:117696
Year Published:2017
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2017-06-24
Last Modified:2017-12-13
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