"Boosting fish populations in this way could help to kick-start natural recovery processes..."
An international team of researchers has found a clever way to draw fish to dying coral reefs — a discovery that could help restore the vulnerable ecosystems.
For their six-week study, recently published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists from Australia and the United Kingdom used dead coral to build 33 experimental reef patches near the Great Barrier Reef.
For 40 nights, they played the sounds of a healthy reef from underwater loudspeakers positioned near some of the reef patches. To serve as controls, other patches were equipped with dummy speakers or no speakers at all.
Sounds Like Home
By the end of the study, the researchers found that the "acoustically enriched" reefs attracted twice as many juvenile fish as the other experimental patches — and that the fish tended to stick around, too.
While we won't be able restore dying reefs with loudspeakers alone, researcher Tim Gordon of the University of Exeter believes the team's study could contribute to solving the problem.
"Fish are crucial for coral reefs to function as healthy ecosystems," he said in a press release. "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."
READ MORE: Scientists used loudspeakers to make dead coral reefs sound healthy. Fish flocked to them. [The Washington Post]
More on coral reefs: Undersea Robots Are Helping Save the Great Barrier Reef