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New study suggests music festivals can be stressful to fish

Wednesday, July 8th 2020, 9:54 am - Toadfish aren't a fan of electronic dance music, according to a new study.

Researchers found Miami's annual Ultra Music Festival is stressful to nearby fish, especially Gulf toadfish.

Scientists say the fish's stress response was similar to what they would experience when hearing the noises made by bottlenosed dolphins, one of their top predators.

The findings documented a 4-5 fold increase in blood cortisol, which is the toadfishes primary stress hormone, during the first night of the music festival, when compared to control samples taken before Ultra began.


They aren't sure if the elevated stress levels will have any long-term impact on the fish -- but Maria Cartolano, the lead postdoctoral scientist on the study, says previous studies suggest there could be lifelong implications.

"Underwater noise pollution causes stress and various physiological and behavioral disruptions on communication, hearing, spawning behavior and reproduction in aquatic organisms," Cartolano says in a statement, citing past research.

Gulf toadfish are an important contributor to their ecosystem and rely on sound to find mates, interact with other toadfish, and for avoiding prey.

"We conducted the study on the effects of the multi-day music concert due to the close proximity of the festival to our experimental hatchery and aquaculture facility," said co-investigator Martin Grosell, professor of marine biology and ecology and Maytag Chair of Ichthyology at the UM Rosenstiel School.

"It provided us an opportunity to investigate the potential impacts a large music festival of this kind can have on fish."

The 2019 Ultra Music Festival attracted over 170,000 people over a three-day event.

Thumbnail image source: Creative Commons. Edited by The Weather Network because, as we all know, fish don't really wear noise-cancelling headphones.

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