Spawning Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.) exposed to noise from seismic airguns do not abandon their spawning site
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Seismic airgun surveys may disturb and displace fish at large ranges. If such displacement causes fish to abandon spawning grounds, reproductive success could be impacted. To investigate whether airgun sound causes cod (Gadus morhua L.) to leave their spawning grounds, acoustic telemetry arrays were deployed on two cod spawning grounds: a test and a reference site. From 2019 to 2021, 136 mature cod from the test site and 45 from the reference site were tagged with acoustic transmitters. Intermittent seismic shooting of two 40 in.3 airguns for 1 week during the spawning periods of 2020–2021 resulted in fluctuating sound exposure levels (SEL) at the test site, comparable to a full-scale industrial survey 5–>40 km away. Residency and survival of tagged cod were analysed with capture–mark–recapture models fitted to the detection and recapture data. Departure rate of the mature cod varied between spawning seasons but was similar between the test and reference sites. Neither survival nor departure significantly differed between seismic exposure and baseline periods. The results indicated that exposure to airguns at received SEL of up to ∼145 dB re 1 μPa2 s, comparable to a seismic survey occurring several kilometres away, did not displace tagged cod from spawning grounds.
ICES Journal of Marine Science 2022 ;Volum 79.(10) s. 2697-2708