Large tracts of the Great Barrier Reef are dead. But scientists have been successful in bringing some dead patches back to life using an ingenious method. Dead coral reefs are visible and living proof of the devastation that man has wreaked on the environment. Thousands of nautical miles of this fragile ecosystem has been devastated. They have transformed into bleached fossils. This is due to changes in the ocean temperature, pollution, rising ocean levels, fearsome cyclones, and uncontrolled fishing, reports ABC News.
Situated off the coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is in the throes of total destruction. But scientists have successfully restored some dead patches back to life. They have played the sounds of the surrounding nature. This has lured the fish back into the surrounding water. The reefs once teemed with marine life but most of them moved to safer places as the reefs died out. The sounds of nature played through loudspeakers have lured the fish back and they have cleaned the corals and allowed the development of new corals. This will help the ecosystem to recover to some extent.
The Reef has turned into a vast marine grave that was once home to one of the most vibrant ecosystems on earth. They have become ghostly quiet. Scientists have dismayed at this deadly silence as this place was once full of life which created a symphony played by the fish and countless other living creatures in the ocean.
A group of ocean researchers set up this system of underwater loudspeakers that played a recording of sounds that emanated from this ecosystem. Led by a marine biologist from the University of Exeter, they conducted their experiment near Lizard Island that is on the Reef.
Nature Communications published the results which were astonishing. A University of Exeter press release has revealed that the broadcasting of music doubled the fish arriving at the reef. The numbers of species that were present at the reef have grown by about 50%. Tim Gordon, the lead author of the study has revealed that the return of the fish is crucial for the functioning of a healthy ecosystem. Boosting fish population is this unique way will help to initiate the process of natural recovery. This will hopefully balance out the damage that has been caused by the changing environment.
Marine biologist Steve Simpson, co-author says that healthy reefs are quite noisy places. The crackling of healthy snapping shrimp with the grunts and whoops of fish come together to create this vital piece of the symphony. Juvenile fish are drawn to these familiar sounds when they come searching for a spot to settle.
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The deathly silence of the deserted reef is again being gradually replaced by the resonance of a healthy and vibrant reef. The scientists conducted the experiments for a period of 6 weeks. This successful experiment can prove to be an important tool in the hands of scientists in their ongoing efforts to protect and restore the endangered coral reefs around the earth.
But on a sober note, the sounds of nature will not be enough to restore the reef back to life. It has to be accompanied by relentless efforts at restoring the reef at the local level. But what is needed even more is worldwide cooperation to stop climate change. This will be absolutely necessary if we are to save the Reef from extinction, along with numerous other coral formations around the world that are home to some of the richest colonies of marine life.
Co-author of the study, Andy Radford from the University of Bristol has noted that that acoustic enrichment for this purpose is a very promising technique at a local level.
This initiative has to be combined with the restoration of habitat and different conservation methods. This includes building fish communities that were destroyed to help accelerate the restoration of the ecosystem.
On a global scale, it is necessary to tackle overfishing, water pollution and most importantly, climate change if we are to protect this crumbling ecosystem.
IMAGE CREDIT: balinature