Study: Loud Music Likely Stressful to Fish
A new study by researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science found that the Ultra Music Festival was likely stressful to toadfish. The study was published in the Journal Environmental Pollution on Thursday.
The researchers' findings show that the fish experienced a significant stress response on the first day of the Ultra Music Festival in March 2019, when there was elevated noise.
In a report published by the University of Miami, the study's co-investigator Danielle McDonald, professor of marine biology and ecology said: "The stress response was similar to what toadfish would experience when hearing bottlenose dolphins, a toadfish predator."
The researchers' findings showed that the toadfish experienced a 4-5 fold increase in blood cortisol, their main stress hormone, during the first night of the Ultra Music Festival compared to two baseline samples taken before Ultra began.
In addition to testing cortisol levels, the research team placed recording devices to measure sound intensity in the air and underwater. Hydrophones were placed in the toadfish tanks and in the waters directly next to the Ultra stages.
Recordings revealed that the sound intensity increased by 7-9 decibels in the low frequency range where fish are the most sensitive to changes in sound pressure.
Underwater noise pollution causes stress and various physiological and behavioral disruptions on communication, hearing, spawning behavior and reproduction in aquatic organisms, said co-author Maria Cartolano.
Gulf toadfish play an important ecological role in the local marine environment and rely heavily on sound and their hearing for reproduction, social interactions and avoiding prey. This study could not determine if the elevated cortisol levels will have any long-term effects on the fish.
The electronic music festival, held at the Miami Marine Stadium and Virginia Key Beach Park, on March 29-31, 2019 attracted over 170,000 attendees during the three-day event, one of the largest electronic music festivals in the world.