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The impact of seismic survey exposure on the righting reflex and moult cycle of southern rock lobster (Jasus edwardsii) puerulus larvae and juveniles

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 15:25 authored by Ryan DayRyan Day, Quinn FitzgibbonQuinn Fitzgibbon, McCauley, RD, Katherine BakerKatherine Baker, Jayson SemmensJayson Semmens

Anthropogenic aquatic noise is recognised as an environmental pollutant with the potential to negatively affect marine organisms. Seismic surveys, used to explore subseafloor oil reserves, are a common source of aquatic noise that have garnered attention due to their intense low frequency inputs and their frequent spatial overlap with coastal fisheries. Commercially important Southern Rock Lobster (Jasus edwardsii) adults have previously shown sensitivity to signals from a single seismic air gun. Here, the sensitivity of J. edwardsii juveniles and puerulus to the signals of a full-scale seismic survey were evaluated to determine if early developmental stages were affected similarly to adults, and the range of impact. To quantify impact, lobster mortality rates, dorsoventral righting reflex and progression through moult cycle were evaluated following exposure. Exposure did not result in mortality in either developmental stage, however, air gun signals caused righting impairment to at least 500 m in lobsters sampled immediately following exposure, as had previously been reported in adults with corresponding sensory system damage following exposure. Impairment resulting from close range (0 m) exposure appeared to be persistent, as previously reported in adults, whereas juveniles exposed at a more distant range (500 m) showed recovery, indicating that exposure at a range of 500 m may not cause lasting impairment to righting. Intermoult duration was (time between moults) significantly increased in juveniles exposed at 0 m from the source, indicating the potential for slowed development, growth, and physiological stress. These results demonstrate that exposure to seismic air gun signals have the potential to negatively impact early life history stages of Southern Rock Lobsters. The similarity of both the impacts and the sound exposure levels observed here compared to previous exposure using a single air gun offer validation for the approach, which opens the potential for accessible field-based experimental work into the impact of seismic surveys on marine invertebrates.


Fisheries Research & Development Corporation


Publication title

Environmental Pollution



Article number









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Elsevier Sci Ltd

Place of publication

The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox5 1Gb

Rights statement

© 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Wild caught rock lobster; Oil and gas exploration

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