Boat Noise Makes Squid Temporarily Deaf | Hakai Magazine
Rosalyn Putland (2022 Grass Fellow) and Allen Mensinger (Whitman Center scientist) led this study in Frontiers in Marine Science.
Bad news: 15 minutes of thrumming from a diesel engine makes squid hard of hearing.
Good news: the cephalopods can recover within hours—if we let them.
Standing next to the speakers at a loud concert can leave your ears ringing. Some squid, it turns out, are much the same: listening to just 15 minutes of boat noise makes hummingbird bobtail squid temporarily deaf. Even though the animals can regain their hearing within hours, the ever-present din of human noise pollution means squid may never get the chance to recover.
Squid’s noise sensitivity stems from the structure of their hearing organs, a pair of tiny fluid-filled sacs called statocysts. Similar to the human inner ear, statocysts can detect vibrations, gravity, and the animal’s orientation in its watery surroundings. Although our understanding of squid physiology is still developing, it’s likely that the delicate structures are easily damaged by loud, low-frequency sounds.
In a recent study, Rosalyn Putland, an underwater noise researcher from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science in the United Kingdom, exposed lab-cultured squid to 15-minute audio recordings of an idling boat—a typical sound for squid in their natural habitats. To squid, the diesel engine’s 150-decibel thrum, muffled by the water, would be roughly the volume of a noisy restaurant or heavy road traffic. Read rest of the story here.