A team of researchers and marine biologists set up underwater loudspeakers to play recorded sounds of healthy reefs as an experiment to lure young fish to swim in areas where the coral had degraded.
The total number of fish arriving in the degraded coral areas during the experiment doubled and also increased the number of species by 50 per cent. Those included species from all sections of the food web such as herbivores, plankton feeders, predatory fish eaters. The researchers, including those from the University of Exeter in the UK, said boosting the populations using this kind of "acoustic enrichment" can help to kick-start a natural recovery processes of the reefs. According to the study, broadcasting healthy reef sound doubled the total number of fish arriving onto experimental patches of reef habitat.
Different groups of fish provide different functions on coral reefs. "Fish are crucial for coral reefs to function as healthy ecosystems," said study lead author Tim Gordon, of the University of Exeter. This way, reefs can be restored using loudspeakers which can recreate this lost soundscape. "However, we still need to tackle a host of other threats including climate change, overfishing and water pollution in order to protect these fragile ecosystems," said Andy Radford, study co-author from the University of Bristol in the UK.