Underwater loudspeakers could help restore damaged coral reefs


Working on Australia's recently devastated Great Barrier Reef, the worldwide research team from the Universities of Exeter and Bristol, Australia's James Cook University, and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, placed loudspeakers underwater playing healthy reef recordings in patches of dead coral. Newly arrived fish settle in to stay and clean the reef, which in turn creates space for new corals to grow - an essential part of the recovery process.

Increasingly frequent heat waves created marine dead patches in the reef by "laundering", in which the corals are forced to expel their symbiotic algae. Nevertheless degraded reefs beget a much bigger shot at recovery within the event that they've tough populations of fish, which play a vary of roles in preserving the coral healthy. The issue of global warming has caused a widespread damage to ecosystem of the coral reef.

These submarine speakers played sounds of a healthy reef - including the noises made by other reef dwellers - including shoals of fish and shrimps.

Marine biologist Tim Gordon of the College of Exeter and colleagues arrange submarine loudspeakers in patches of useless coral round Lizard Island on Australia's lately devastated Nice Barrier Reef.

The new technique works by regenerating the sounds that are lost when reefs are quietened by degradation, according to the findings published in Nature Communications.

This diversity included species from all sections of the food web - herbivores, detritivores, planktivores and predatory piscivores.

"We can attract young fish back again by using loudspeakers to restore this lost soundscape", the researchers noted.

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"It is very important to be realistic about this - this is potentially a useful tool for attracting fish towards areas of degraded habitat but it is not a way of solving the coral reef crisis; it is not a way of bringing back a whole reef to life on its own", he said. They then mounted underwater loudspeakers to the center of the patches, angling them upward to make obvious the sound was distributed in all directions evenly.

'If combined with habitat restoration and other conservation measures, rebuilding fish communities in this manner might accelerate ecosystem recovery'.

The team found that playing healthy reef sounds led to a doubling of the number of fish arriving onto experimental patches of reef habitat.

Professor Andy Radford, a co-author from the University of Bristol, said: "Acoustic enrichment is a promising technique for management on a local basis".

Meanwhile, several other researchers are still investigating other approaches, including 3D-printed coral to lab-grown hybrid coral, that might be able to control the changing underwater climate.

'While attracting extra fish will not save coral reefs by itself, new strategies like this give us extra instruments within the battle to avoid wasting these valuable and weak ecosystems, ' added Mr Gordon.

This bleached states can last for up to six weeks, and while corals can recover if the temperature drops and the algae return, severely bleached corals die, and become covered by algae.