Riverside underwater noise pollution threaten porpoises and fish along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, China


Zhi-Tao Wang

Additional Authors

Peng-Xiang Duan,Tomonari Akamatsu,Yu-Wei Chen,Xue An,Jing Yuan,Pei-Yu Lei,Lu Zhou, Ming-Chao Liu, Fei Fan, Ke-Xiong Wang, Ding Wang



Volume & Issue

Volume 226: 112860

Country / Region


Document Type

Peer-reviewed journal article


Yangtze finless porpoise

Conservation Measure

Research and monitoring

Threat Keywords

underwater noise


The Yangtze River exhibits a high biodiversity and plays an important role in global biodiversity conservation. As the world’s busiest inland river in regard to shipping, little attention has been paid to underwater noise pollution. In 2017, the underwater noise level in 25 riverside locations along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River mainly at night time were investigated by using passive acoustic monitoring method. Approximately 88% and 40% of the sampled sites exhibit noise levels exceeding the underwater acoustic thresholds of causing responsiveness and temporary threshold shift, respectively, in cetacean. Noise pollution may impose a high impact on fish with physostomous swim bladders and Weberian ossicles, such as silver carp, bighead carp, goldfish and common carp, whereas it may affect fish with physoclistous swim bladders and without Weberian ossicles, such as lake sturgeon and paddlefish, to a lesser extent. Noise levels reductions of approximately 10 and 20 dB were observed in the middle and lower reaches, respectively, of the Yangtze River over the 2012 level. The green development mode of the ongoing construction of green shipping in the Yangtze River Economic Belt, including the development of green shipping lanes, ports, ships and transportation organizations, may account for the alleviated underwater noise pollution. Follow-up noise mitigation endeavors, such as the extension of ship speed restrictions and the study and implementation of the optimal navigation speed in ecologically important areas, are required to further reduce the noise level in the Yangtze River to protect local porpoises and fish.