Scientists are experimenting with underwater loudspeakers to attract fish to bleached coral reefs. The results? Twice as many fish returned to the marine ecosystem.
With a team based out of the United Kingdom and Australia, scientists experimented with using “acoustic enrichment” in marine settings. This creative project was an attempt to entice fish and restore life to the swaths of bleached coral reefs along the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
The project aimed to replicate the sounds of healthy reefs, including the crackling of snapping shrimp and the whirls of moving fish, to simulate a lively and vibrant ecosystem. These kinds of noises are typically found along the reefs and attract juvenile fish that are looking for a place to take up residence. The results indicated that the loudspeakers attracted double the number of fish and saw an 50% increase in the number of species present.
Fish are a crucial part of reef ecosystems, with each playing its own specific role in contributing to a healthy reef. Once reefs are bleached, the little ecosystems go silent as marine critters slowly move away in search of a healthier community. Using loudspeakers to replicate these sounds have fortunately helped to attract young fish back and boost local fish populations. Having bigger fish populations around is thought to help kick-start coral recovery processes and counteract much of the damage done to coral reefs around the world.
The Great Barrier Reef is increasingly affected by coral bleaching, which is due to above-normal water temperatures. The loss of these reefs are thought to pre-meditate the “widespread ecological collapse” of underwater ecosystems across the globe. Nonetheless, these types of projects provide promise for the recovery of these marine ecosystems in the future.
In summary, while this project proved to be quite optimistic, it was found only to be helpful for local application – and it is not a widespread solution. As such, there are still many factors that need further consideration, such as mitigating climate change, overfishing, and water pollution. To restore and protect these delicate reef ecosystems in the long-run, it is important to tackle these threats first and foremost.
Who knew that a set of loudspeakers could be so good for the environment?
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