Publication Detail

An exploration for deep-sea fish sounds off Vancouver Island from the NEPTUNE Canada ocean observing system

Carrie C. Wall, Rodney Rountree, Corinne Pomerleau, Francis Juanes
9 pp.
MITSG 14-05
$5.50 DOM / $7.50 INT

Our understanding of the significance of sound production to the ecology of deep-sea fish communities has improved little since anatomical surveys in the 1950s first suggested that sound production is widespread among slope-water fishes. The recent implementation of cabled ocean observatory networks around the world that include passive acoustic recording instruments provides scientists an opportunity to search for evidence of deep-sea fish sounds. We examined deep-sea acoustic recordings made at the NEPTUNE Canada Barkley Canyon Axis Pod (985 m) located off the west coast of Vancouver Island in the Northeast Pacific between June 2010 and May 2011 to determine the presence of fish sounds. A subset of over 300 5-min files was examined by selecting one day each month and analyzing one file for each hour over the 24 h day. Despite the frequent occurrence of marine mammal sounds, no examples of fish sounds were identified. However, we report examples of isolated unknown sounds that might be produced by fish, invertebrates, or more likely marine mammals. This finding is in direct contrast to recent smaller studies in the Atlantic where potential fish sounds appear to be more common. A review of the literature indicates 32 species found off British Columbia that potentially produce sound could occur in depths greater than 700 m but of these only Anoplopoma fimbria and Coryphaenoides spp. have been previously reported at the site. The lack of fish sounds observed here may be directly related to the low diversity and abundance of fishes present at the Barkley Canyon site. Other contributing factors include possible masking of low amplitude biological signals by self-generated noise from the platform instrumentation and ship noise. We suggest that examination of data both from noise-reduced ocean observatories around the world and from dedicated instrument surveys designed to search for deep-sea fish sounds to provide a larger-scale, more conclusive investigation into the role, or potential lack thereof, of sound production.

type: Journal, book, proceeding reprints

Parent Project

Project No.: 2010-R/RC-119
Title: DeepFSL - a low cost bimodal observation system for deep sea ecosystem research