Technology & Science

Scientist Repopulate a Coral Reef Using Sound

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As ocean temperatures rise, coral reefs continue to die off at an astonishing rate. This is due to the fact that corals are symbiotic organisms and one half of that partnership cannot survive in warm waters. With the loss of coral reefs, animals that feed on and live in coral move away. Once they have left, it is difficult to get them back, even if colder waters do return.

The Sound of Healthy Corals

Since the ocean is so vast, the best way to attract fish is actually through sound. That’s because water is an excellent conductor of sound. You might not know this, but a coral reef is filled with various sound frequencies that humans cannot hear. Similar to the way whales and dolphins communicate, scientists in this experiment used underwater speakers to broadcast the sound of a healthy coral reef. To their surprise, the fish came back!

With Fish Come Bacteria

What’s amazing about this simple study is that the fish bring with them much-needed bacteria flora. Yes, the entire coral reef is supported not only by the visible food chain, but also by the invisible. Bacteria are the food source for zooplankton and these microscopic creatures are nourished by things like fish poop and urine. By attracting the fish residents back to the coral reefs, scientists are also supporting bacterial growth.

Studies have shown that bodies of water that contain higher levels of ammonia, a compound found in fish urine, can help corals recover from injuries better and grow faster. Once the fish are back, the ecosystem is able to establish homeostasis on its own.

Ocean Ecosystem and the Economy

Why should you care about coral reefs? Well, given the vastness of the ocean, coral reefs contain the highest level of biodiversity. Maintaining healthy coral reefs is key to preventing a massive collapse of the entire ocean ecosystem. This would, in effect, kill off fish that we depend on, such as tuna. It might not affect you directly, but the global economy will certainly feel the impact of losing one of the largest cash fish in the ocean.

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