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Professor says manmade noise underwater may make fish deaf

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — An assistant biology professor at Western Kentucky University suspects an increase in manmade sounds underwater make fish deaf.

Michael Smith cited U.S. Navy sonar and oceanic shipping as possible noise pollution for fish, which use sound to find their way around and listen for predators. With the help of his student Reagan Gilley and a $10,000 grant, Smith will study the auditory system of fish.

The study will expose locally-bought rainbow trout, silver perch and goldfish to various sound combinations at a special sound booth at the WKU Complex for Engineering and Biological Sciences. Afterward, tests will be performed to see whether there has been hearing loss. The fish’s brain waves will be recorded through electrodes while the fish listen to tones.

“We give a series of pure tones to fish through an underwater speaker, and we increase the intensity of the tones until we detect brain-wave activity,” Smith said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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