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Study: Loud EDM Sounded Like Predatory Dolphins to Miami Toadfish

Ultra Music Festival, which has battled the city of Miami over loud music for years, harms not just humans but also fish, according to a study conducted by the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, which found that toadfish off of the city’s Virginia Key had their stress levels rise during this past year’s festival.

“The stress response was higher than what would be experienced when being chased by a simulated predator and similar to when hearing bottlenose dolphins, a toadfish predator,” UM Rosenstiel School professor of marine biology and ecology said in a statement.

Scientists at the school’s experimental hatchery and research site on Virginia Key monitored the decibel levels toadfish endured in their tanks and in the surrounding water while this year’s festival was taking place just on the shore. Those scientists discovered that toadfishes’ production of blood cortisol, a stress hormone, spiked drastically during the first night of the three-day festival held in March. The hormone is key in helping toadfish detect predators.

“Prior studies have shown that underwater noise pollution causes stress and various physiological and behavioral disruptions on communication, hearing, spawning behavior and reproduction in aquatic organisms,” the study’s lead postdoctoral scientist,  Maria Cartolano, said in a statement. With that in mind, researchers weren’t able to conclude if Ultra will wreak longterm damage on the local aquatic life.

This year’s version of Ultra was an all-around disaster, as many of the festival’s 50,000 attendees were stranded on the island in the wee hours of Saturday morning awaiting buses to transport them back to mainline Miami in a debacle that unsurprisingly made those marooned feel like they were living their own version of Fyre Festival.

The City of Miami Commissioner’s Office was scheduled to decide Ultra’s future on Virginia Key on Thursday, May 9, but Ultra organizers announced Wednesday that the festival would be relocating from Miami to “a new South Florida location” that has yet to be announced.

Now let the toadfish relax in peace.