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Scientists Revive Coral Reef With the Power of Sound

Credit: TechSpot

It’s all about that bass. No, the other bass.

Coral reefs aren’t in the best place right now. As the global climate warms, more and more reefs around the planet succumb to bleaching events, killing off large swaths of life and leaving whatever remains without a place to call home. Marine biologists have been tinkering with ways to restore the reefs and bring sea life back. A new study from Nature Communications may provide a promising lead from an unexpected source.

While human ears aren’t built to detect noise underwater, there’s actually quite a ruckus going on down there. The ambient noise from the variety of life that hangs out in a reef helps to attract other creatures looking for a safe place to start a home. When a reef is killed by bleaching, that noise stops, and fish can’t find it. To that end, scientists set up several underwater speakers on a stretch of unoccupied reef and blasted sounds that the reef would normally produce. Remarkably, after running those speakers for a while, life began to return! Animals ventured into the reef and began to set up shop. Based on the scientists’ estimations, the parts of the reef where sounds were blasted saw an astonishing 50% increase in marine life.

Australia has been pouring money into reef protection research in its efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef from further damage. This new speaker technique could be just the thing they’re looking for.