Explosions from activities such as construction, demolition, and military activities are increasingly encountered in the underwater soundscape. However, there are few scientifically rigorous data on the effects of underwater explosions on aquatic animals, including fishes. Thus, there is a need for data on potential effects on fishes collected simultaneously with data on the received signal characteristics that result in those effects. To better understand potential physical effects on fishes, Pacific sardines (Sardinops sagax) were placed in cages at mid-depth at distances of 18 to 246 m from a single mid-depth detonation of C4 explosive (4.66 kg net explosive weight). The experimental site was located in the coastal ocean with a consistent depth of approximately 19.5 m. Following exposure, potential correlations between blast acoustics and observed physical effects were examined. Acoustic metrics were calculated as a function of range, including peak pressure, sound exposure level, and integrated pressure over time. Primary effects related to exposure were damage to the swim bladder and kidney. Interestingly, the relative frequency of these two injuries displayed a non-monotonic dependence with range from the explosion in relatively shallow water. A plausible explanation connecting swim bladder expansion with negative pressure as influenced by bottom reflection is proposed.

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