Our planet is in trouble, suffering environmental problems like pollution, endangered species, and ruined habitats like coral reefs. This is, unfortunately, not news. But scientists are finding that the ‘sound’ of coral reef can be an indicator of its health—that, in a way, coral reef can be ‘heard’ dying. Kemplon Engineering reports on this new study.
The Sound of Coral Reefs
Coral Reefs are noisy environments audible to sea creatures, as well as to human ears aided by underwater microphones. These sounds, produced by a reef’s resident sea creatures like fish and crustaceans, are louder when the reefs are healthier and more vibrant; conversely, they are more muted when they are dying. Simply put, the less healthy the reef, the less noise can be heard.
A recent study led by Dr. Julius Piercy of the University of Essex, involved taking acoustic recordings of coral reefs in the Philippines. The recordings of unprotected reefs were compared with recordings from healthier reefs. It has been found that noise from unprotected reefs was just a third of what can be heard from more thriving reef communities.
The study of coral reef sounds was described by the University of Exeter’s Dr. Steve Simpson as an affordable, quick and objective way of checking on reef conditions. Furthermore, it supplements visual surveys of reefs, which may miss nocturnal species.
Aside from being a good indicator of coral reef health, scientists state the sound and noise levels in this habitat also has an impact on the ecosystem, as reef fish and invertebrates in larval stages use the noise for navigation and orientation. With less noise, the larvae’s ability to detect a nearby habitat decreases, impacting the population of a reef.
We at Kemplon Engineering have a great love of our world’s oceans and a great respect for the living things in it. The new study creates a new intimacy to the long-standing problem of our planet’s troubled coral reefs. Listen to the sounds of a healthy reef and an impacted reef at Smithsonian.com (here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/listen-sounds-dying-coral-reef-180953543/?no-ist) and compare them, to experience the difference for yourself. It is our hope that the ‘sound’ of coral reef death creates new awareness and spurs more immediate action toward their preservation.
^ Griffiths, Sarah. “Hear the fading sound of coral reefs DYING: Underwater habitats make less noise as resident fish and crustaceans die.” Mail Online, 03 Dec 2014. Web. 25 Dec 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2859427/Hear-fading-sound-coral-reefs-DYING-Underwater-habitats-make-noise-resident-fish-crustaceans-die.html’
^ MarEx. “You Can Hear the Coral Reefs Dying.” Maritime Executive, 14 Dec 2014. Web. 25 Dec 2014. http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/You-Can-Hear-the-Coral-Reefs-Dying
^ Nuwer, Rachel. “Listen to the Sounds of a Dying Coral Reef.” Smithsonian.com, 05 Dec 2014. Web. 25 Dec 2014. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/listen-sounds-dying-coral-reef-180953543/?no-ist