Feb 27 2013, 3:08am CST | by Luigi Lugmayr
"We used controlled experiments to consider how shore crabs of different sizes respond to both single and repeated exposure to playback of ship noise. Ship noise is the most common source of noise in the aquatic environment," says Matt Wale, study co-author from Bristol's School of Biological Sciences.
Horseshoe crabs play an important ecological role in the food web. A decline in their numbers will impact shorebirds and sea turtles. Shorebirds depend on exposed crab eggs, but sufficient surface eggs are available only if this species is spawning at high densities, according to a Bristol and Exeter statement.
Similarly, hermit crab act as scavengers. They are omnivorous and known as "aquarium janitors" because they keep a tank free of algae, food debris, dead fish and other organic matter. Hermit crabs are a source of food for fish, birds and other crabs.
Steve Simpson from Exeter warned: "Also, many crustacean species, particularly prawns, are grown in aquaculture, so if acoustic disturbance has a metabolic cost then operational noise in farms may impact growth, and quieter farms may be more profitable."
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