Effects of low-frequency underwater sound on hair cells of the inner ear and lateral line of the teleost fish Astronotus ocellatus

J Acoust Soc Am. 1996 Mar;99(3):1759-66. doi: 10.1121/1.414699.


Fish (Astronotus ocellatus, the oscar) were subject to pure tones in order to determine the effects of sound at levels typical of man-made sources on the sensory epithelia of the ear and the lateral line. Sounds varied in frequency (60 or 300 Hz), duty cycle (20% or continuous), and intensity (100, 140, or 180 dB re: 1 muPa). Fish were allowed to survive for 1 or 4 days posttreatment. Tissue was then evaluated using scanning electron microscopy to assess the presence or absence of ciliary bundles on the sensory hair cells on each of the otic endorgans and the lateral line. The only damage that was observed was in four of five fish stimulated with 300-Hz continuous tones at 180 dB re: 1 muPa and allowed to survive for 4 days. Damage was limited to small regions of the striola of the utricle and lagena. There was no damage in any other endorgan, and the size and location of the damage varied between specimens. No damage was observed in fish that had been allowed to survive for 1 day poststimulation, suggesting that damage may develop slowly after exposure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation*
  • Animals
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Ear, Inner / physiology*
  • Fishes*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / cytology*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Electron