Speed Reads

Can you hear me now?

Oysters can hear, and they're tired of our noise pollution

Noise pollution could pose a huge risk to oysters after researchers found that the mollusks can hear frequencies underwater, The New York Times reports.

Researchers exposed 32 Pacific oysters to typical man-made ocean frequencies like turbines, seismic research, oil exploration, and the movement of cargo ships. Each oyster "clammed up" when scientists generated the low frequencies in closed conditions, the study found.

Bivalve mollusks only close their shells under stress. An open shell allows them to receive biological cues, like crashing currents, that could signal proper eating and digesting times. An inability to "hear" other natural events like rainfall due to a closed shell may prevent spawning, said Jean-Charles Massabuau, the author of the study and the research director at the French National Center for Scientific Research.

Research into noise pollution has already demonstrated the negative effects it can have on whales, fish, some marine mammals, and cephalopods like octopi and squid. Now, researchers believe that noise pollution could cause harm to a larger range of marine life. Massabuau told the Times that "noise pollution could affect many more animals than we thought."

Read the full study in the journal PLOS ONE.