Noise emission during the first powerboat race in an Alpine lake and potential impact on fish communities

J Acoust Soc Am. 2004 Dec;116(6):3789-97. doi: 10.1121/1.1808219.


In order to assess the effects of high-speed boating on fish communities, noise levels were measured during the first Class 1 powerboat race on the Austrian Lake Traunsee. The noise spectra were compared to natural ambient noise and hearing abilities of four native fish species. Sound pressure levels (SPLs) were significantly elevated during the training heats and the race compared with natural levels, reaching up to 128 dB re 1 microPa (instantaneous SPL) at a distance of 300 m to the powerboats. Continuous equivalent SPLs were significantly lower during training and the pole position race compared to the race itself because fewer boats were simultaneously on the lake. The hearing abilities of the native hearing specialists and generalists were investigated. While carp and roach (two cyprinids) showed enhanced auditory sensitivity typical for hearing specialists, perch and whitefish were much less sensitive to sounds. Comparisons between power boat noise spectra and audiograms showed that the cyprinids can detect the boats up to several hundred meters distance because the main noise energy is well within the most sensitive hearing range. The hearing generalists, however, probably only perceive the first harmonic of the boat noise at close distances.