The effect of motorboat sound on Australian snapper Pagrus auratus inside and outside a marine reserve

Allen Mensinger, Rosalyn L Putland, Craig A. Radford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Human-generated sound affects hearing, movement, and communication in both aquatic and terrestrial animals, but direct natural underwater behavioral observations are lacking. Baited underwater video (BUV) were deployed in near shore waters adjacent to Goat Island in the Cape Rodney–Okakari Point Marine Reserve (protected) or outside the reserve approximately four km south in Mathesons Bay (open), New Zealand to determine the natural behavior of Australian snapper Pagrus auratus exposed to motorboat sound. BUVs worked effectively at bringing fish into video range to assess the effects of sound. The snapper inhabiting the protected area showed no behavioral response to motorboat transits; however, fish in the open zones either scattered from the video frame or decreased feeding activity during boat presence. Our study suggests that motorboat sound, a common source of anthropogenic activity in the marine environment can affect fish behavior differently depending on the status of their habitat (protected versus open).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6438-6448
Number of pages11
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Firstly, we would like to thank Professor Peter Rogers for help calculating the particle acceleration of the boat transits. Leigh Marine Laboratory provided housing (AFM) and boats for the experiments. Funding was provided by NSF grant IOS-1354745 NSF, a University of Minnesota travel grant and University of Minnesota Duluth Biology Department grant to AFM. CAR was supported by a Royal F I G U R E 7  Each box shows the median value, the bottom and top of the box indicate 1st and 3rd quartiles, respectively, and the error bars indicate the 10th and 90th percentiles, for fish number (top), bite number (middle), and bite frequency (bottom) for presound, sound, and post-sound activity. MB = Mathesons Bay; GI = Goat Island. The asterisks indicate statistically significant data (p < .05) was encountered following analysis with general linear models with negative binomial distributions Society of New Zealand Rutherford Discovery Grant (RDF-13-UOA-010) and RLP was supported by a PhD scholarship awarded from CAR grant.

Funding Information:
National Science Foundation, Grant/Award Number: IOS-1354745; Royal Society of New Zealand Rutherford Discovery Grant, Grant/Award Number: RDF-13-UOA-010

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • acoustics
  • baited underwater video
  • fish behavior
  • hearing
  • human-generated sound


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