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Underwater speakers are helping save coral reefs

Photo Credit: Coral Restoration Foundation

As our climate continues to change around us, our oceans and its inhabitants are at risk. Coral reefs are some of the ocean’s most beloved ecosystems, and as they die they take ocean life with them. In the past three decades over 50% of the world’s coral reefs have been lost. A paper published recently in Nature Communications shares research focused on the impact of playing sounds around dead/dying coral reefs. What they found was a positive response and hope for the future of reef recovery and conservation.

While we can all imagine our favorite inspiring and uplifting EDM track blasting at these endangered ecosystems, that’s not the case. Instead, researchers used the sounds of healthy, vibrant coral reef ecosystems in their experiments. With the belief that they could entice juvenile and adult fish to a dying reef, they broadcasted healthy reef sounds. Their results proved them right, doubling the total number of fish and fish species by 50%.

Fig. 1

Ensuring there was no unfairness within the acoustically enriched environment, the research team added dummy speakers. They conducted studies of dead coral areas with both dummy speakers as well as no speakers at all. Within 40 days the amped coral reefs had twice the amount of fish as the other control groups. While increasing the number of fish to a coral reef won’t completely regenerate its ecosystem, it’s a major step in helping them recover.

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