A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Bordeaux in France purports to reveal that oysters may be feeling stressed due to underwater noise pollution. Results of the study, conducted with 32 oysters in a laboratory, were published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PloS One (don’t miss the ‘Swimsuit Edition,’ published each spring!). Researchers found that oysters will close their shells when exposed to low-frequency noises such as those emitted by cargo ships, explosions, and underwater oil exploration.
Scientists say that, under optimal conditions, “relaxed” bivalve mollusks like oysters will keep their shells open and let their flesh hang out exposed. When stressed, however, these shamelessly slutty crustaceans apparently clam up like a witness asked to testify in a Clinton scandal. Researchers are worried that closing their shells to filter out the racket could prevent the oysters from perceiving important biological clues. Jean-Charles Massabuau, one of the study’s authors, stated that oysters “must be able to ‘hear’ breaking waves and water currents” which could trigger their biological rhythms.
Since these mollusks are bottom-feeders (much like some members of the mainstream media), and filter the water, researchers are concerned that stressing them out may stunt their growth and lead to reduced water quality.
Granted, no one wants to strain their mussels, myself included, but I’m not buying into the results of this study.
First off, oysters don’t have ears and can’t “hear.” They do have hair cells on their gills, and certainly can sense vibrations and other stimuli, however.
Secondly, zebra mussels, filter feeders all, have exploded across North American lakes in the past few years, and I can tell you from personal experience that no amount of underwater noise troubles them in the least.
Thirdly, how did oysters possibly come through World War II? There were unprecedented numbers of cargo ships, battle ships, cruisers, destroyers, aircraft carriers, and submarines traversing the planet, blowing each other up with incredible frequency. Explosions in and around the world’s oceans? The likes of which the world hasn’t seen before or since. Not to mention the massive oil slicks, or the ships themselves falling to the ocean floor.
Moreover, what happened to the concept of animals adapting to their environment? Has science discarded Darwin’s Theory of Evolution?
I believe that certain types of pollution can- and does- pose a real threat to oysters, and other sea creatures. But not low-frequency noise pollution.
This study treats these mollusks as if they were the marine version of campus “snowflakes.”