Underwater speakers lure fish to damaged reefs

Sustainability |  < 1 min. read

They say babies like Mozart, cows like R.E.M. and plants?  Well, apparently they like just about any kind of music.

Now fish are getting in on the act, although what they like, might not be music to our ears.  In fact, technically, this new experiment didn’t play music;  you might call the sound more of a reef jam.

Scientists set up underwater speakers on damaged sections of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and played the sounds fish would expect to hear around a healthy reef (like the snapping sound made by the, yep, snapping shrimp).

>>Related: Researchers successfully test 3D printed coral reefs.

The idea was that a healthy-sounding reef (and underwater, that’s quite a noisy place apparently) would attract fish even to a reef that was in bad shape. The idea: fish would hear the familiar sounds of “home”, hang around, and in turn, their presence would help the coral recover.  And, that’s just what happened.

Damaged sections of reef with no speakers?  Not so many fish.  Damaged sections of reef with speakers and “music”.  That’s where the fish went.  That’s good news for the environment because the fish are a critical part of a healthy coral reef ecosystem.  So underwater sound systems could contribute to healing damaged reefs.

Not surprisingly though, you can’t just drop any old speaker under the ocean.  For this experiment, scientists went with University Sound UW30 speakers, for the sound, naturally, but also because the UW stands for “underwater.”  And what keeps those UW30s working underwater are polymers like ABS for the waterproof casing and polyamide coating for the internal components, which are made from petrochemicals like ethylene, propylene, butadiene and benzene. And that is what makes it possible for even a snapping shrimp to say, “these go to eleven.”