Impacts of a local music festival on fish stress hormone levels and the adjacent underwater soundscape

Maria C. Cartolano, Igal Berenshtein, Rachael M. Heuer, Christina Pasparakis, Mitchell Rider, Neil Hammerschlag, Claire B. Paris, Martin Grosell, M. Danielle McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An understudied consequence of coastal urbanization on marine environments is sound pollution. While underwater anthropogenic sounds are recognized as a threat to aquatic organisms, little is known about the effects of above-surface coastal sound pollution on adjacent underwater soundscapes and the organisms inhabiting them. Here, the impact of noise from the 2019 Ultra Music Festival® in Miami, FL, USA was assessed at the University of Miami Experimental Hatchery (UMEH) located directly adjacent to the music festival and on underwater sound levels in Bear Cut, a nearby water channel. In addition, stress hormone levels in fish held at UMEH were measured before and during the festival. Air sound levels recorded at UMEH during the Ultra Music Festival did not exceed 72 dBA and 98 dBC. The subsurface sound intensity levels in the low frequency band increased by 2-3 dB re 1 μPa in the adjacent waterway, Bear Cut, and by 7-9 dB re 1 μPa in the fish tanks at UMEH. Gulf toadfish (Opsanus beta) housed in the UMEH tanks experienced a 4-5 fold increase in plasma cortisol, their main stress hormone, during the first night of the Ultra Music Festival compared to two baseline samples taken 3 weeks and 4 days before Ultra. While this study offers preliminary insights into this type of sound pollution, more research is needed to conclude if Ultra caused a stress response in wild organisms and to fully understand the implications of this type of sound pollution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114925
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Anthropogenic sound
  • Cortisol
  • Gulf toadfish
  • Music festival
  • Noise pollution
  • Holidays
  • Animals
  • Noise
  • Fishes
  • Music
  • Sound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology


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