Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 39–64 | Cite as

Information gaps in understanding the effects of noise on fishes and invertebrates

  • Anthony D. Hawkins
  • Ann E. Pembroke
  • Arthur N. PopperEmail author


The expansion of shipping and aquatic industrial activities in recent years has led to growing concern about the effects of man-made sounds on aquatic life. Sources include (but are not limited to) pleasure boating, fishing, the shipping of goods, offshore exploration for oil and gas, dredging, construction of bridges, harbors, oil and gas platforms, wind farms and other renewable energy devices, and the use of sonar by commercial and military vessels. There are very substantial gaps in our understanding of the effects of these sounds, especially for fishes and invertebrates. Currently, it is almost impossible to come to clear conclusions on the nature and levels of man-made sound that have potential to cause effects upon these animals. In order to develop a better understanding of effects of man-made sound, this paper identifies the most critical information needs and data gaps on the effects of various sounds on fishes, fisheries, and invertebrates resulting from the use of sound-generating devices. It highlights the major issues and discusses the information currently available on each of the information needs and data gaps. The paper then identifies the critical questions concerning the effects of man-made sounds on aquatic life for which answers are not readily available and articulates the types of information needed to fulfill each of these drivers for information—the key information gaps. Finally, a list of priorities for research and development is presented.


Behavior Pile driving Seismic airguns Shipping Fish Invertebrates 



This review is partially derived, with permission, from a report to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Normandeau 2012) prepared by the authors. The report, in turn, derives from and builds on a meeting on “Effects of Noise on Fish, Fisheries, and Invertebrates in the U.S. Atlantic and Arctic from Energy Industry Sound-Generating Activities” that was initiated and funded under contract M11PC00031 by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Environmental Studies Program of the U.S. Department of the Interior. We thank Kimberly Skrupky and the many others at BOEM for their guidance and active support for the meeting. Normandeau Associates led the BOEM project and while working on the whole project we benefitted greatly from collaboration with Dr. Christopher Gurshin of Normandeau. We have learned much from discussions and collaborations with numerous colleagues. We are reluctant to name individuals for fear of leaving out some people, and instead offer our greatest respect and gratitude to all of our colleagues. Since 2007 we have had a multi-year collaboration with a particular group of colleagues in developing guidelines for effects of noise on fish and turtles (Popper et al. 2014). Those individuals had a substantial impact upon our thinking. We want to thank Kim Skrupky, Arie Kaller, and Sally Valdes for review and comments on this revised MS. Finally, while this paper is a synthesis and distillation of many parts of the Gap Analysis from the BOEM report, we have also modified the analysis and brought in new ideas and views. We take full responsibility for any errors or omissions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony D. Hawkins
    • 1
  • Ann E. Pembroke
    • 2
  • Arthur N. Popper
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Loughine LtdAberdeenUK
  2. 2.Normandeau AssociatesBedfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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