Underwater loudspeakers can help restore coral reef

James Marshall
December 3, 2019

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. The team says that fish are crucial to coral reef function as a healthy ecosystem.

One way to help restore the coral reef's natural recovery process is to boost fish populations. The new technique generates sounds that are lost when reefs are quietened by degradation.

"Healthy coral reefs are remarkably loud places. Juvenile fish home in on these sounds when they're looking for a place to settle", wrote senior author and University of Exeter marine biology professor Stephen Simpson.

Australian Institute of Marine Science fish biologist Mark Meekan noted that bringing fish won't bring the reef "back to life automatically", but it will aid in recovery, allowing it to be cleaned and "create space for corals to regrow". The recordings were taken from healthy sections, and included a range of sounds typical to thriving coral communities, including noises made by fish, shrimp, molluscs and other reef-dwellers.

"The study found that broadcasting healthy reef sound doubled the total number of fish arriving onto experimental patches of reef habitat, as well as increasing the number of species present by 50%", the University of Exeter said in a release on Friday.

All parts of the food chain were attracted to the reefs, including herbivores, detritivores, planktivores and predatory piscivores, the researchers found.

A team of scientists from the United Kingdom and Australia teamed up to use underwater loudspeakers to try and entice fish back to dead coral reefs and potentially help them recover.

"From local management innovations to global political action, we need meaningful progress at all levels to paint a better future for reefs worldwide".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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