Monday, January 24

“Trick” the oceans with sounds to regain their splendor: this is the plan of these researchers to restore marine ecosystems

Sebastián already sang it to the Little Mermaid with his tone of a Latin soap opera heartthrob: “Under the sea there is always rhythm. The manta ray will touch, the sturgeon will join. There is always rhythm, marine rhythm under the sea “. The ocean has its own soundtrack, your own tone, beat and cadence, one – scientists have found – that is particularly good for marine diversity.

Like a whiting biting its tail – sorry for the simile – the sound generated by healthy and diverse ecosystems contributes to greater richness. Biologists from the Universities of Bristol and Adelaide have verified how the playback of recordings with healthy ecosystems audios has favored the proliferation of fish, doubling the abundance and increasing the variety of species by 50%. Moreover, thanks to this tool, the use of loudspeakers and “acoustic enrichment” have even favored the regeneration of coral reefs.

The better “soundtrack”, the more rich

The magazine Nature collected in 2019 the experience of a group of researchers from the University of Bristol and their results with reefs off Lizard Island, Australia, which had been damaged between 2014 and 2015 by the effect of cyclones. In 2017 the group rebuilt miniature reefs and installed speakers that reproduced the sound generated by healthy ecosystems. Outcome? They attracted twice as many young fish. “The acoustic world under water is essential for the survival of most animals”one of its researchers, Stephen Simpson, recently explained to Smithsonian Magazine. They have not been the only ones to explore the field.

“Acanthurus lineatus” en Cairns, Australia. Toby Hudson

The effects that a good marine “soundtrack” can have have also been studied in Australia, in the University of Adelaide, where they have tested the effect of sound to restore ecosystems both in the ocean and on land. In line with their colleagues in Bristol, they found that sound helps, for example, baby fish to locate and settle on coral reefs. One of the laboratory experiments showed that reefs with sounds associated with rich and healthy ecosystems multiplied their chances of becoming “home” for oysters. Simpson, as Smithsonian Magazine collects, continues his studies in the Caribbean.

These researchers have found a way to save the Great Barrier Reef: a colossal project to brighten the clouds

The key, as the 2019 study published in Nature already slipped, is that degraded reefs “sound and smell” less attractive to fish in settlement stages than healthy ones. “Acoustic signals are particularly suitable for artificial restoration, due to its use by a wide range of fish in the settlement stage and its ease of handling ”, he concluded. His 40-day experience on the Great Barrier Reef in northern Australia in 2017 is clear and in tune with that song by Sebastián: for best soundtrack; more wealth and greater presence of herbivores, omnivores, plankivores and piscivores.

Image: Peternel Port (Wikipedia), Toby Hudson (Wikipedia)