Published: Mon, December 02, 2019
Science | By

Underwater loudspeakers could help restore damaged coral reefs

Underwater loudspeakers could help restore damaged coral reefs

These audio system performed recordings of the sounds of a wholesome reef - together with the noises made my shoals of fish, shrimps, and different reef dwellers.

The researchers found that twice as many fish came to and stayed near the dead plots where the speakers were functioning than those with no sound plays.

'Boosting fish populations on this approach may assist to kick-start pure restoration processes, counteracting the injury we're seeing on many coral reefs all over the world'.

This new technique works by regenerating the sounds that are lost when reefs are quietened by degradation.

"[We thought] if one of the things that a degraded reef is missing is its sounds, well, that is something that on a local level we can replace and if we do we might pull in some fish and we might kickstart a recovery a little quicker", Tim Gordon, first author of the latest study from the University of Exeter, told the Guardian.

Dying coral might be revived by playing the sounds of healthy reefs via underwater loudspeakers to attract young fish, suggests a new study.

Ailing coral reefs, on the other hand, become "ghostly quiet" as the various creatures that make up their ecosystems perish or depart.

Instead, the global team of researchers from United Kingdom universities in Exeter and Bristol, plus Australia's James Cook University and Australian Institute of Marine Science, piped in recordings of healthy coral reefs. However, previous research has shown degraded reefs sound and smell less attractive to young fish, meaning populations around them dwindle in what scientists fear could be a negative spiral to silence.

Tim Gordon explains "acoustic enrichment".

Completely different species of fish present totally different features on coral reefs, which means that an plentiful and numerous fish inhabitants is vital for sustaining a wholesome ecosystem.

"If combined with habitat restoration and other conservation measures, rebuilding fish communities in this manner might accelerate ecosystem recovery".

'Healthy coral reefs are remarkably noisy places the crackle of snapping shrimp and the whoops and grunts of fish combine to form a dazzling biological soundscape, ' said paper author and fellow Exeter marine biologist Steve Simpson.

"We can attract young fish back again by using loudspeakers to restore this lost soundscape", the researchers noted. Other researchers are investigating everything from 3D-printed coral to lab-grown hybrid coral that might be able to withstand the changing underwater climate. If you attract fish this way, you can start a natural recovery process, "nursing" the damage that we all see on the coral reefs around the world.

The team saw that broadcasting healthy reef sounds increased the total number of fish arriving onto trial patches of the reef home.

Corals have a symbiotic relationship with a tiny marine algae called "zooxanthellae" that live inside and nourish them.

This bleached states can final for as much as six weeks, and whereas corals can get well if the temperature drops and the algae return, severely bleached corals die, and turn into coated by algae.

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