Scientists use underwater speakers to lure fish towards dying coral reefs

Katie Ramirez
December 3, 2019

AA group of scientists have found by using sounds from a healthy reef, they can attract fish to a dying reef.

Tim Gordon explains "acoustic enrichment".

In a bid to revive this delicate ecosystem, scientists from the United Kingdom and Australia conducted a study that involved using speakers underwater near damaged coral reefs to make them sound healthy and attract fish, potentially kick-starting the natural recovery process of coral reefs and their dependent life forms.

At the beginning of fish recruitment season, when fish spawn and mature, the workforce constructed 33 experimental reef patches out of lifeless coral on open sand about 27 yards from the naturally occurring reef.

The researchers found that up to twice as many fish ended up populating the reefs where these sounds were played, versus areas in similar states of decay where they were not.

Scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science surveyed fish populations living near a pair of severely bleached reefs, the Great Barrier Reef in the western Pacific and the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean.

As coral reefs die they become silent graveyards, however, the introduction of underwater loudspeakers brings new life and helps to rejuvenate the coral reefs, The Nature Communications reported.

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But while the demise of coral reefs is a boon to parrotfish, the latest research suggests the hardy fish help reefs recover from bleaching by cleaning off the scunge. The increase in fish was spread across a diverse transect, including herbivores, detritivores, planktivores, and predatory piscivores.

"Corals be quiet ghosts when they were relegated, as shrimp and fish disappear, but with using loudspeakers to restore this soundscape is missing, we can attract young fish back again".

Meanwhile, several other researchers are still investigating other approaches, including 3D-printed coral to lab-grown hybrid coral, that might be able to control the changing underwater climate.

"Healthy coral reefs are notoriously noisy places - the crackle of snapping shrimps and fish screams and growls are combined to form a biological soundscape dazzling" said Steve Simpson, professor of marine biology at the University of Exeter.

By combining this method with habitat restoration, and other conservation measures, the researchers said fish communities can be rebuilt, accelerating ecosystem recovery.

"However, we still need to tackle a host of other threats including climate change, overfishing, and water pollution in order to protect these fragile ecosystems".

Mr. Gordon added: "Whilst attracting more fish won't save coral reefs on its own, new techniques like this give us more tools in the fight to save these precious and vulnerable ecosystems". From native management innovations to global political motion, we'd like principal development the least bit ranges to paint a nearer future for reefs worldwide'.

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