Seismic air guns damage rock lobster mechanosensory organs and impair righting reflex
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© 2019 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
The effects of anthropogenic aquatic noise on marine invertebrates are poorly understood. We investigated the impact of seismic surveys on the righting reflex and statocyst morphology of the palinurid rock lobster, Jasus edwardsii, using field-based exposure to air gun signals. Following exposure equivalent to a full-scale commercial assay passing within 100-500 m, lobsters showed impaired righting and significant damage to the sensory hairs of the statocyst. Reflex impairment and statocyst damage persisted over the course of the experiments-up to 365 days post-exposure and did not improved following moulting. These results indicate that exposure to air gun signals caused morphological damage to the statocyst of rock lobsters, which can in turn impair complex reflexes. This damage and impairment adds further evidence that anthropogenic aquatic noise has the potential to harm invertebrates, necessitating a better understanding of possible ecological and economic impacts.
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