(TMU) — Dead coral reefs have become one of the major horrors resulting from human impact, with thousands of miles of coral ecosystem across the globe being transformed into bleached-out graveyards due to the devastating impact of fast-heating ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, pollution, and overfishing.
And for years, the Great Barrier Reef off Australia’s coast—the largest living structure on the entire planet—has faced a slow death, with massive amounts of the corals simply dying while the rest of the once-dazzling coral transforms into bleached, lifeless matter.
But now, scientists have discovered an ingenious way to restore life to the dead patches of the Great Barrier Reef: by playing the ambient sounds of nature through loudspeakers to lure fish to the area. The fish would then help to clean up the reef, allowing for the growth of fresh corals necessary to recover reef ecosystems.
Scientists had long been concerned about the deadly quiet surrounding damaged coral reefs, which once teemed with the sound of healthy marine life, creating a sort of oceanic orchestra of sounds from fish, shrimp, and various other reef denizens. But without the sound of such traffic, many fish simply avoid the dead zones.
So a team of researchers led by marine biologists at the University of Exeter set up a system of submarine loudspeakers to play recordings of healthy reefs in a bid to attract the attention of fish to the dead coral patches around Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef.
The results, which were published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Communications, were astounding.
According to a Friday press release by the University of Exeter:
“The study found that broadcasting healthy reef sound doubled the total number of fish arriving onto experimental patches of reef habitat, as well as increasing the number of species present by 50 percent.”
The study’s lead author, marine biologist Tim Gordon, said:
“Fish are crucial for coral reefs to function as healthy ecosystems … 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.”
Steve Simpson, a fellow marine biologist at the University of Exeter and co-author of the study, added:
“Healthy coral reefs are remarkably noisy places—the crackle of snapping shrimp and the whoops and grunts of fish combine to form a dazzling biological soundscape. Juvenile fish home in on these sounds when they’re looking for a place to settle.
Reefs become ghostly quiet when they are degraded, as the shrimps and fish disappear, but by using loudspeakers to restore this lost soundscape, we can attract young fish back again.
The loudspeaker experiment, which lasted about six weeks, could provide one more tool in the ongoing fight to restore and protect the world’s dying coral reefs.
However, the broadcasting of healthy reef sounds won’t necessarily allow the dead patches to miraculously swing back to life. Continued restoration efforts and moves to mitigate or halt climate change remain crucial in saving the Great Barrier Reef.
Andy Radford, a co-author from the University of Bristol, noted:
“Acoustic enrichment is a promising technique for management on a local basis.
If combined with habitat restoration and other conservation measures, rebuilding fish communities in this manner might accelerate ecosystem recovery.
However, we still need to tackle a host of other threats including climate change, overfishing and water pollution in order to protect these fragile ecosystems.”
Drunk Man Rescues Injured Baby Bird By Sending It To Animal Shelter… In An Uber
An injured baby bird received a new lease on life after a young man who was inebriated had the good sense to send the little creature to an animal shelter because he and his friends were too drunk to drive.
In the Summer of 2019, a small lesser goldfinch suddenly appeared by itself at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. The center’s chairman, Buz Marthaler, was notified by a volunteer who sent him a photo.
“It was a picture of this bird, and it had come by Uber,” Marthaler told FOX13. “It was just crazy.”
As it turns out, the tiny bird – which was only two weeks old – indeed rolled up to the site by its lonesome, the sole passenger in an Uber vehicle called by concerned citizens who found the injured creature.
Among those good Samaritans was Tim Crowley, who had been “day drinking” on that Saturday before he and his buddies witnessed the little bird fall from the sky.
“Impromptu, sitting in some camp chairs, hanging out, having a few drinks when we had a visitor fall out of the sky,” he explained.
Crowley then snapped a photo of the bird and sent it to the WRCNU, which instructed him to immediately bring the bird in. However, the group obviously couldn’t drive since they had been guzzling booze all day.
So Crowley decided he’d hail a cab for the creature.
“At first it was a joke, like, ‘Hey, maybe we should just call Uber!’” he said. “Then we were like, ‘No, really. Why not? We’re paying them.’”
As it turns out, the bird – since named “Petey Uber” by staff at the rescue center – likely would have perished if not for Crowley’s quick thinking.
Marthaler remains impressed by Crowley’s move and shared the news on its Facebook page.
“While we feel we’ve seen it all and can’t be amazed by anything, there is always someone out there to prove us wrong,” the shelter’s post read. “Thank you to the rescuer who helped this little one get the care it needed in a timely manner and thank you for keeping yourself safe and others on the road safe as well.”
Heat Wave Kills Over 1 BILLION Sea Creatures on Canada West Coast, Experts Say
Researchers in Canada are reporting that over 1 billion marine animals on Canada’s Pacific coast are likely to have died in last week’s record-shattering heat wave, showing how ecosystems not accustomed to such high temperatures are especially vulnerable to changing conditions.
The deadly “heat dome” that settled over British Columbia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest for five days is believed to have killed at least 500 people in Canada, and pushed temperatures to extreme temperatures of 104F (40C), sparking wildfires that are burning across the Canadian province.
Multiple experts are now saying that the heat wave also took a horrifying toll on marine life, leaving “postapocalyptic” scenes in its wake.
Marine biologist Christopher Harley of the University of British Columbia knew, when he saw the harrowing weather forecasts, that when the tide dropped the sweltering conditions would absolutely fry the mussels, barnacles and sea stars that were exposed.
When the heatwave actually struck, he was devastated by the stench of decay and the vast death toll sustained by the local ecosystem.
“The shore doesn’t usually crunch when you walk on it,” he told The Guardian. “But there were so many empty mussel shells lying everywhere that you just couldn’t avoid stepping on dead animals while walking around.”
Mussels and barnacles can typical deal with harsh temperatures as high as 113F for a few hours – but any more than that is simply not survivable.
Harley told the New York Times that the loss of mussels likely reaches into the hundreds of millions.
However, when factoring in the death of other marine animals that once lived on the shore and resided on the mussel beds – such as hermit crabs and their crustacean relatives, worms, sea cucumbers and other creatures – the number could quite easily exceed one billion.
“It just feels like one of those postapocalyptic movies,” Harley said.
Harley’s colleagues have also reported on dead sea anemones, rock fish and oysters in the region.
In neighboring Alberta, a massive number of fish also washed up on the shores, likely due to the heat wave.
Fortunately, mussels are able to regenerate over about two years. Starfish and clams, however, live for decades and reproduce much more slowly.
The domino effect of such a vast loss of marine life could be felt on other animals in the ecosystem such as sea ducks, a migratory bird that feeds on mussels in the winter before migrating to the Arctic.
The horrific loss shows that the pace of warming climate conditions is likely outstripping the ability of creatures simply to survive – a prospect that makes Harley feel saddened, but he is still trying to find hope.
“A lot of species are not going to be able to keep up with the pace of change,” he said. “Ecosystems are going to change in ways that are really difficult to predict. We don’t know where the tipping points are.”
Binx the Cat, Who Survived Florida Condo Collapse, Found and Reunited With Family
Amid the tragedy of last month’s collapse of a South Florida condo building, there was a tiny bit of good news when a cat named Binx, who lived on the ninth floor of the Surfside building, was found safe and returned to his family.
“I’m glad that this small miracle could bring some light into the lives of a hurting family today and provide a bright spot for our whole community in the midst of this terrible tragedy,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava in a Friday press conference, reports NPR.
Levine Cava explained that a volunteer who feeds street cats in the area recognized the cat near the building before bringing him to an animal shelter, where it was then identified.
Gina Nicole Vlasek, the co-founder of the The Kitty Campus rescue group, posted on Facebook that a black cat had been found near the rubble of the group before it was brought to the shelter on Thursday night.
“We are so grateful to be able to help in any small way,” Vlasek said.
“All we needed was a ray of hope in this tragedy,” she continued. “Today was one of the most amazing days.. one of the survivors came to see the cat and to determine if it was her families cat and IT WAS!”
The mayor said that animal control workers are continuing to work to recover any pets that may have survived the horrible collapse.
The 12-story Surfside condo collapsed on June 24. At least 79 people have been confirmed dead, with 61 additional residents remaining unaccounted for.