Spotify For Fish: Scientists Use Speakers to Bring Marine Life Back To Dying Coral Reefs

Harry Harding

Often it can seem like the only news about the environment is about how it’s all been destroyed. But, a recent discovery offers a bit of hope as scientists help sea life rebuild their homes.

Scientists from the UK and Australia used speakers to replicate the sounds of healthy coral and encourage sea life to return.

A study published in Nature Communications found that dead coral reefs can potentially recover with some extra healthy noise around them.

“Healthy coral reefs are remarkably noisy places — the crackle of snapping shrimp and the whoops and grunts of fish combine to form a dazzling biological soundscape. Juvenile fish hone in on these sounds when they’re looking for a place to settle,” said Steve Simpson, an author of the study and a professor of marine biology and global change at the University of Exeter.

The scientists involved in the study used loudspeakers to play the sounds of healthy coral life near-dead reefs.

Harry Harding

Those sounds attracted double the number of fish to the area and increased the number of species present by 50%. Tim Gordon, the lead author of the study and another marine biologist from the University of Exeter, said, “Fish are crucial for coral reefs to function as healthy ecosystems … Boosting fish populations in this way could help to kick-start natural recovery processes, counteracting the damage we’re seeing on many coral reefs around the world.”

The scientists are cautiously optimistic that this loudspeaker technique can help coral reefs to survive. Climate change, overfishing, and pollution have all contributed to the degradation of coral reefs over the years. So combating those issues will also help to improve the ecosystems surrounding coral reefs.

In this experiment, the coral reefs were monitored for 40 days. In order to see if this method really works, further research would need to be done to see if the fish remain in the area and reproduce.

Sarah Halle Corey

Written by Sarah Halle Corey