Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Recording Coral Reefs

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Recording Coral Reefs

Article excerpt

In the unspoiled reefs of Las Perlas Archipelago on the Pacific coast of Panama, the fish are talking and the humans are listening. By using a simple underwater recording device called a hydrophone, scientists are able to eavesdrop on coral reef communities. These undersea recordings are generating valuable information for both conservation and research. "Investigation of the acoustic properties of reefs is a relatively new area of science but already we're realizing that there's more to underwater noises than just whale and dolphin communication," explains University of Exeter Biosciences student Emma Kennedy.

Contrary to the popular image of colorful creatures gliding through a sea of silence, fish and invertebrates produce plenty of sounds through clicks and grunts. Researchers have shown that coral reefs are very noisy places and that, like any living community, the type and volume of noise changes depending on how healthy the community is and who lives there. In short, a healthy reef is a noisy reef.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

To listen to life underwater, scientists attach a hydrophone to a cable and without disturbing the fish, slip the hydrophone into the water, where two-minute recordings seem to generate enough data to compile a complete profile of a reef. By comparing audio recordings to visual studies of the reef, the researchers found that the healthier reefs produced more noise. Further investigations showed that the different types of noise could tell a lot about the reefs population. Lower frequency sounds give information about the numbers of fish living on the reef, while higher frequency sounds relate to the amount of coral diversity. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.