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University of Exeter marine biology doctoral student Tim Gordon sets up a loudspeaker on a coral reef. Image: Harry Harding/University of Bristol
In recent decades coral reefs have come under severe threat from pollution, unsustainable fishing practices, disease, global climate change and ship groundings. As a result scientists have scrambled to find solutions to help reverse damage and a new study suggests that loudspeakers may serve as an important remedy.
As CBS News reported, researchers set up underwater loudspeakers in Australia’s northern Great Barrier Reef in late 2017, blasting recorded sounds of healthy reefs to encourage young fish to return to, and settle in, damaged ones. In a study published Friday in the journal Nature, the researchers said this “acoustic enrichment” can help revive coral reefs globally.
How This Works: As study author Dr. Steve Simpson of the University of Exeter explained, 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. Juvenile fish home in on these sounds when they’re looking for a place to settle and when reefs die this noise fades. Using speakers to project the natural sounds of reefs can help attract these young fish back.
Researchers found that twice as many fish flocked to the “acoustically enriched reefs” compared to areas where no sound was played — a crucial factor in kick-starting natural recovery processes.
Why This Matters: Severe bleaching events caused by marine heat waves over the past four decades have now affected almost every coral reef ecosystem in the world. While bringing back fish to damaged reefs won’t be all that’s necessary to restore reefs, fish can help with important aspects of recovery like cleaning reefs and creating space for coral regrowth.
It’s not just men in the fishing sector who are impacted by climate change, overfishing, and COVID-19 — women are too. Women like Alexia Jaurez of Sonora, Mexico, who is featured in this Environmental Defense Fund video, do the important work of monitoring the catch and the price, and most importantly determining how many more […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Last summer, Florida created its first aquatic preserve in over 30 years. The Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve protects about 400,000 acres of seagrass just north of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf coast. These are part of the Gulf of Mexico’s largest seagrass bed and borders other existing preserves, creating a […]
A new study has found that whale songs can be a powerful tool for mapping the ocean floor. Seismic testing done by humans can harm whales and other marine life, but by using whale songs instead, scientists believe the practice can be adapted to be much less harmful to marine populations.
Why This Matters: For years, the fossil fuel industry has hauled “seismic guns” behind large boats, blasting loud, harmful bursts of sound that disturb sea life and impair the sonar of animals like whales and dolphins.
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