, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 203-209

Effects of Boat Engine Noise on the Auditory Sensitivity of the Fathead Minnow, Pimephales promelas

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Abstract

Fishes are constantly exposed to various sources of noise in their underwater acoustic environment. Many of these sounds are from anthropogenic sources, especially engines of boats. Noise generated from a small boat with a 55 horsepower outboard motor was played back to fathead minnows, Pimephales promelas, for 2 h at 142 dB (re: 1 μPa), and auditory thresholds were measured using the auditory brainstem response (ABR) technique. The results demonstrate that boat engine noise significantly elevate a fish's auditory threshold at 1 kHz (7.8 dB), 1.5 kHz (13.5 dB), and 2.0 kHz (10.5 dB), the most sensitive hearing range of this species. Such a short duration of noise exposure leads to significant changes in hearing capability, and implies that man-made noise generated from boat engines can have far reaching environmental impacts on fishes.