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Monday, 25 January 2021

How underwater acoustics could help with coral reef restoration

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How underwater acoustics could help with coral reef restoration
How underwater acoustics could help with coral reef restoration

Scientists from the University of Exeter have discovered a possible way to restore dying coral reefs - underwater speakers that mimic the sound of healthy reefs.

Adam Reed reports

An international team of scientists have been making a big noise on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, in an effort to restore life back to the underwater wonder.

The group made up of marine experts from the UK's University of Exeter and University of Bristol, working with Australia's James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, say this method of "acoustic enrichment" could be a valuable tool in helping to revive damaged coral reefs.

Lead author, Tim Gordon: (SOUNDBITE) (English) LEAD AUTHOR, TIM GORDON, SAYING: "Healthy coral reefs have loads of fish on them, those fish are really important for helping the reef function as it should, and they're attracted towards the reef by sound.

Vast areas of the reef have been devastated in recent years, with little sign or sound of life.

However, this new technique works by regenerating the sounds that are lost when reefs are quietened by degradation.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) LEAD AUTHOR, TIM GORDON, SAYING: We did an experiment where we used underwater loudspeakers to make quiet, degraded patches of coral rubble sound like they were healthy reefs.

And when we did, we attracted twice and many fish The hope is that the gathering fish go on to clean the reef, making space for coral to grow and restoring life over time.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) LEAD AUTHOR, TIM GORDON, SAYING: They listen out for all the pops and grunts and whistles and chirps that you can hear from all the animals on a healthy coral reef and they swim towards those sounds." The aim of the underwater speakers is to encourage more species of fish to settle on the areas of the reef most in need and then go onto accelerate an ecosystem recovery.

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