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Scientists recreate coral reef using sounds

The fading and death of coral reefs has unfortunately been an increasingly common and growing problem in recent years. Scientists are still looking for ways to stop this process, but also to restore and rebuild damaged corals. The problem is very serious, so it should come as no surprise that researchers are trying all sorts
Published: January 13, 2020 - 15:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 19:06
Scientists recreate coral reef using sounds

The fading and death of coral reefs has unfortunately been an increasingly common and growing problem in recent years. Scientists are still looking for ways to stop this process, but also to restore and rebuild damaged corals. The problem is very serious, so it should come as no surprise that researchers are trying all sorts of ways.

One of the latest projects is being carried out on Australia’s famous Great Barrier Reef. Scientists there have introduced a pioneering acoustic enrichment method, which involves emitting the sounds of nature. In this way, fish are attracted to specific areas to help clean the reefs, enabling the growth of fresh coral, which is essential for rebuilding reef ecosystems.

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Biologists have long been puzzled and disturbed by the deathly silence surrounding dead coral reefs. Previously, these were places where true symphonies of underwater sounds resounded, a sign of healthy marine life. It turned out that the lack of this oceanic orchestra is the reason why many fish simply avoid the dead zones.

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A team of marine biologists from the University of Exeter created an underwater speaker system, to play recordings of healthy reefs, to attract the attention of fish and draw them to the area of dead coral around Lizard Island, a national park located on the Great Barrier Reef. The results of the experiment proved astonishing, and the whole endeavour was presented in detail in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

“Fish are crucial for coral reefs to function as healthy ecosystems. Increasing fish populations in this way can help kick-start natural recovery processes, counteracting the damage we are seeing to many coral reefs around the world. ‘The study showed that the transmission of healthy reef sound doubled the total number of fish arriving in the experimental areas, and increased the number of species previously present by 50 per cent,’ said Tim Gordon, marine biologist leading the project

Healthy reefs, it turns out, are extremely noisy places where local inhabitants contribute to a diverse and colourful soundscape. This is what attracts young fish, who head towards these sounds as they look for a place to settle.

Encouraged by the results of their work in Australia, the researchers are pinning high hopes on the new method as a serious tool in the fight to restore coral populations worldwide. They point out, however, that acoustic enrichment may be a way to fight for local populations and without global action that will lower water temperatures, among other things, there can be no question of saving coral reefs.

Source: themindunleashed.com

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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