Cuttlefish become stressed when exposed to shipping sound and panic when exposed to loud, low-frequencies, according to two scientific papers published this year.
Marine Life Society of South Australia believes these results should trigger increased research efforts into the impact of shipping noise on Giant Australian Cuttlefish aggregation at Point Lowly.
It argues the matter is critical, given anticipated shipping increases should current iron ore export plans receive environmental approvals this month.
In a study published in the American Naturalist in October, the European common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis, showed signs of stress when exposed to recordings of shipping noise.
The test subjects changed their visual and tactile behaviour more rapidly when exposed to recordings of a small ferry played back in a laboratory environment.
The proposed Port Bonython iron ore export facility, if approved, will construct a new wharf through the cuttlefish breeding reef.
Marine Life Society of South Australia secretary Dan Monceaux said a new port would mean more ships coming closer to Black and Stoney Point aggregation sites than ever before.
“The vessel recorded for use in the first study was a minnow with a gross weight of 312 tonnes,” Mr Monceaux said.
“The capesize ore-carrying vessels likely to use the proposed Port Bonython wharf would carry around 175,000 tonnes of ore each and would emit much lower frequencies of sound due to their larger hull, engine and propeller sizes.”