A large-scale experiment finds no consistent evidence of change in mortality or commercial productivity in silverlip pearl oysters (Pinctada maxima) exposed to a seismic source survey

Miles J. G. Parsons, Diego R. Barneche, Conrad W. Speed, Robert D. McCauley, Ryan D. Day, Cecile Dang, Rebecca Fisher, Hosna Gholipour-Kanani, Stephen J. Newman, Jayson M. Semmens, Mark G. Meekan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High-intensity, impulsive sounds are used to locate oil and gas reserves during seismic exploration of the seafloor. The impacts of this noise pollution on the health and mortality of marine invertebrates are not well known, including the silverlip pearl oyster (Pinctada maxima), which comprises one of the world's last remaining significant wildstock pearl oyster fisheries, in northwestern Australia. We exposed ≈11,000 P. maxima to a four-day experimental seismic survey, plus one vessel-control day. After exposure, survival rates were monitored throughout a full two-year production cycle, and the number and quality of pearls produced at harvest were assessed. Oysters from two groups, on one sampling day, exhibited reduced survival and pearl productivity compared to controls, but 14 other groups receiving similar or higher exposure levels did not. We therefore found no conclusive evidence of an impact of the seismic source survey on oyster mortality or pearl production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115480
Number of pages10
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Early online date19 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

Cite this