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Mar Environ Res. 2020 Mar;155:104888. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2020.104888. Epub 2020 Jan 24.

Electric and magnetic senses in marine animals, and potential behavioral effects of electromagnetic surveys.

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Institute of Marine Research Bergen, Nordnesgaten 50, 5005, Bergen, Norway. Electronic address:
Institute of Marine Research, Austevoll Research Station, Sauganeset 16, 5392, Storebø, Norway.
UiT - The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø Geophysical Observatory, 9037, Tromsø, Norway.
Institute of Marine Research Bergen, Nordnesgaten 50, 5005, Bergen, Norway.


Electromagnetic surveys generate electromagnetic fields to map petroleum deposits under the seabed with unknown consequences for marine animals. The electric and magnetic fields induced by electromagnetic surveys can be detected by many marine animals, and the generated fields may potentially affect the behavior of perceptive animals. Animals using magnetic cues for migration or local orientation, especially during a restricted time-window, risk being affected by electromagnetic surveys. In electrosensitive animals, anthropogenic electric fields could disrupt a range of behaviors. The lack of studies on effects of the electromagnetic fields induced by electromagnetic surveys on the behavior of magneto- and electrosensitive animals is a reason for concern. Here, we review the use of electric and magnetic fields among marine animals, present data on survey generated and natural electromagnetic fields, and discuss potential effects of electromagnetic surveys on the behavior of marine animals.


Ecosystem management; Electromagnetism; Electrosensitive animals; Energy resources; Magnetism; Magneto sensitive animals; Noise; Orientation; Pollution effects

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of competing interest The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.

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