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MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Anthropogenic sounds induce escape behaviour in southern stingrays (Hypanus americanus)

Megan F. Mickle*, Rachel Pieniazek, Jacob J. Stasso, Dennis M. Higgs

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Elasmobranchs are important predators that face obvious anthropogenic threats through habitat degradation and overfishing, however the impact of anthropogenic sounds on these animals is less obvious and remains unclear. Using a y-maze behavioural set-up with sound presentation on one side of the pen, we exposed southern stingrays (Hypanus americanus) to three types of anthropogenic sounds: boat engine, cruise ship and airplane sounds. While stingrays did not have a side preference, they did exhibit an increase in escape behaviours during all sound treatments. To our knowledge this is the first study to examine the impacts of airplane sound on any aquatic animal, and we found that stingrays exhibited escape responses most often to airplane sounds. We demonstrate that anthropogenic sounds affect the behavioural response of stingrays, and further state that more efforts are needed in determining behavioural or physiological impacts of anthropogenic sounds on elasmobranchs.