Scientist use underwater speakers to revive dying coral reefs

Climate change is rapidly killing coral reefs all across the world’s oceans and this led a group of researchers to come up with innovative way to try and prevent further loss.

In an effort to revive dying coral reefs, UK and Australian researchers conducted a study which involved placing underwater speakers around damaged coral reefs to make them sound healthier, which in theory will attract fish, possibly setting off the natural recovery process of coral reefs and the life forms which depend on them.

The experiments were conducted in the world famous Great Barrier Reef alongside the east coast of Queensland, Australia. The Great Barrier Reef was chosen as the ideal site because it is noted for having the largest coral reef system in the world, which spans an area 344,400 square km.

By using specialised underwater speakers to replicate the natural sound that would emanate from a healthy coral reef, researchers discovered dead coral reef patches were attracting twice as many fish as places where no sounds have been played.

Steve Simpson, co-author and professor at the University of Exeter, UK said, “healthy coral reefs are remarkably noisy places, the crackle of snapping shrimp and the whoops and grunts of the fish combine to form a dazzling biological soundscape. Juvenile fish hone in on these sounds when they’re looking for a place to settle.”

By using fish to revive dead or dying coral, the reefs are able to heal in a more natural process, compared to other methods of coral reef revival.  In Hawaii, for example, researchers are breeding special corals that are more resilient to temperature increases, however, this method requires humans to interfere with the natural habitat, which has its own destructive implications. By comparison, the system of acoustics helps the natural corals to recover without much human interference.

Feature image: University of Bristol

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