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Soniferous Fishes Of Stellwagen Bank


Title: Identification of soniferous fishes on Stellwagen Bank: validation of their sound production characteristics and association of sounds with specific habitats and behaviors.

Principle investigators: Rountree, R.A., F. Juanes (UMASS-Amherst), and J. Blue (Leviathan Legacy, Inc., Orlando, Florida).

Funded by: National Undersea Research Program, North Atlantic & Great Lakes ( )

We conducted an inshore and offshore survey of soniferous fishes in the Gulf of Maine. The inshore survey was a preliminary study of soniferous fishes on Cape Cod from mid-June through October 2001 and obtained recordings of striped cusk-eel, striped searobin, oyster toadfish and other species. Based on the occurrence of vocal choruses, we found sunset spawning aggregations of the striped cusk-eels at eight of 12 locations sampled across the length of Cape Cod. This is significant because despite extensive faunal surveys in the region over several decades, the importance of the striped cusk-eels has been previously overlooked. This finding nicely demonstrates the usefulness of passive acoustics as a supplement to traditional survey methods. The seasonal and daily pattern of striped cusk-eel vocal activity agrees with published laboratory findings. We also conducted a successful passive acoustics survey of three habitat types within the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary from October 17-24, 2001. Video data indicates a strong faunal difference among sand, gravel and boulder habitats. A preliminary review of acoustic data suggests that fish sounds were only heard in the boulder habitat. Strong circumstantial evidence suggests that the sounds recorded were from the Cusk, Brosme brosme. This is the first known recording of a vocalization of cusk in US waters, though Norwegian scientists may have recently recorded spawning sounds for the species. This finding is significant because it demonstrates that passive acoustics coupled with an ROV may be an important new tool to study the behavior and habitat use patterns of this little known and overexploited species. Extensive data on the noise characteristics of the ROV and support ship together with recordings of fish sounds will allow us to evaluate the feasibility of developing the Soniferous Fish Locator (SFL) device. Preliminary findings suggest that although the ROV is unexpectedly noisy, the ROV can be used as a platform for the SFL under certain conditions. Namely, that the ROV be stopped and held motionless on the bottom with all its thrusters shut down during signal acquisition and source bearing determination. Finally we have demonstrated for the first time that an ROV can be successfully used as a platform for the acquisition of passive acoustics data in conjunction with video data on fish presence, behavior and habitat type.

Quick Look Cruise Report - brief description of cruise results compiled during the cruise. 


Photo gallery I photos from first cruise

 Photo gallery II photos from other project cruises

New item imageWe have recently revisited data from the October 2001 cruise and have produced a paper "First attempt to use a remotely operated vehicle to observe soniferous fish behavior in the Gulf of Maine" by Rodney Rountree and Francis Juanes. The paper describes fish behaviors observed with the ROV and reaction of fishies to ROV noise. It also presents a description of fish sounds tentativley attributed to the cusk. Movie clips illustrating behaviors described in the paper are provided here as a supplement to the paper.


Movie gallery supplement to the paper


Figure 1. Location of inshore study site locations (squares) and Stellwagen Bank Cruise Stations (circles). As part of the inshore survey of fish sounds we sampled 12 locations (circles) throughout Cape Cod at least once between June and October 2001. Sounds of striped cusk-eels were recorded in eight of the 12 locations (red circles), but were not recorded at Skaket beach, Ockway bay, Megansett Beach or the Cape Cod Canal (green squares). Seven of eight potential stations were planned for the offshore cuise (red and blue circles), however we were only able to sample three of the stations due to weather delays (blue circles). In addition, we sampled at the Gloucester Fish Pier when our departure was delayed by weather.

  Science Party: Rodney Rountree, Meg Hendry-Brogan, Rebecca Jordan, and David Howe.

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This page was last modified on December 11, 2001

Copyright 2001 by Rodney Rountree. All rights reserved

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