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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Increased noise levels cause behavioural and distributional changes in Atlantic cod and saithe in a large public aquarium—a case study

Andersson, Marica; Svensson, Ola; Swartz, Terese; et al.; et al.


Investigating the effects of underwater noise on aquatic animals is a research field that is receiving rapidly increasing attention. Despite this, surprisingly few studies have addressed the potential impacts of noise in a marine animal husbandry setting. In this regard, the behaviour of fish in public aquariums can be used as an indicator of well-being, and noise is known to cause behavioural changes. This case study investigates the behaviour of cod (Gadus morhua) and saithe (Pollachius virens) in a large public aquarium when exposed to increased noise levels originating from an aquarium renovation carried out by construction divers. Swimming behaviour, group formation and vertical distribution, along with yawning and scratching frequencies of the fish, were analysed from video recordings made before, during and after the exposure to increased noise levels. The same parameters were also analysed to evaluate potential effects of the presence of divers when not making renovation noise, compared to fish behaviour prior to the renovation. There was a slight change in the depth distribution of both species and a decrease in the number of scratches in cod due to the presence of divers that were not making renovation noise. In the presence of construction noises in the tank, however, both cod and saithe showed a wider array of behavioural changes, including increased swimming speed, changes in depth distribution and increased yawning frequencies. The results from this case study demonstrate that an underwater renovation with increased noise levels impacts fish behaviour and suggests that underwater noise should be considered during the management of aquatic environments, including public aquaria.


anthropogenic effects; behavioural ecology; fish

Published in

Aquaculture, fish and fisheries
2023, Volume: 3, number: 5, pages: 447-458