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Scientists Are Playing Sounds Underwater to Bring Dead Coral Reefs Back to Life

Scientists have discovered an ingenious way to restore life to the dead patches of the Great Barrier Reef.

Elias Marat

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Dead Coral Reefs
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(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.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Animals

Idaho Senate Approves Bill to Kill 90 Percent of State’s Wolves in “Brutal War”

Elias Marat

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Idaho’s legislature is swiftly moving forward with a bill that critics say would sanction a “brutal war” on wolves whereby up to 90 percent of the current wolf population would be killed in a bid to protect the interests of the state’s ranchers.

On Wednesday, the Idaho senate passed the measure by a 26-7 vote. The bill will now move forward to the House chamber, reports Associated Press.

Since teetering at the brink of endangerment years ago, wolf populations were removed from the state endangered species list in 2011. Since then, they have thrived despite Idaho allowing hundreds to be killed by hunters, trappers and state measures to control their numbers. Over the past two years, the wolf population has held steady at about 1,500.

According to federal guidelines, wolf recovery numbers require about 150 wolves in the state.

Republican supporters of the bill said during senate debates that the wolf population has grown entirely out of control, endangering the numbers of deer and elk available to hunters and harming the state economy.

“We’re supposed to have 15 packs, 150 wolves. We’re up to 1,553, was the last count, 1,556, something like that. They’re destroying ranchers. They’re destroying wildlife. This is a needed bill,” said Republican state Sen. Mark Harris. 

However, critics have blasted the move as rash and potentially damaging to the state’s wildlife.

The Idaho Senate’s sudden move to pass this bill in the eleventh hour incentivizes the cruel deaths of more than 1,000 wolves across the state,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. 

“This brutal war on wolves must be stopped, and we urge the House to deny this bill,” Zaccardi added.

Maggie Howell, the head of the Wolf Conservation Center, also described the move as the latest in a hostile and extreme campaign against wolves that fails to take into account the creatures’ value to the local ecology.

“Beyond the wanton cruelty and devastation the passage of this bill would bring to wolves, this legislation poses a threat to wolves nationwide,” she told the New York Times. “With the Trump administration’s decision to transfer wolf management authority from the federal government to the states, Idaho’s policies can influence expectations about wildlife management beyond its borders.”

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As Marine Life Flees the Equator, Global Mass Extinction is Imminent: Scientists

Elias Marat

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The waters surrounding the equator are one of the most biodiverse areas in the globe, with the tropical area rich in marine life including rare sea turtles, whale sharks, manta rays, and other creatures.

However, rampant rises in temperate have led to a mass exodus of marine species from the sensitive region – with grave implications for life on earth.

While ecologists have long seen the thriving biodiversity of equatorial species holding constant in the past few centuries, a new study by Australian researchers published in The Conversation has found that warming global temperatures are now hitting the equator hard, potentially leading to an unprecedented mass extinction event.

The researchers from the Universities of Auckland, Queensland, and the Sunshine Coast found that as waters surrounding the equator continue to heat up, the ecosystem is being disrupted and forcing species to flee toward the cooler water of the South and North Pole.

The massive changes in marine ecosystems that this entails will have a grave impact not only on ocean life – essentially becoming invasive species in their new homes –  but also on the human livelihoods that depend on it.

“When the same thing happened 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all marine species died,” the researchers wrote.

To see where marine life is headed, the researchers tracked the distribution of about 49,000 different species to see what their trajectory was. The global distribution of ocean life typically resembles a bell curve, with far fewer species near the poles and more near the equator.

However, the vast alteration of the curve is already in motion as creatures flee to the poles, according to a study they published in the journal PNAS.

These changes augur major disruptions to global ecosystem as marine life scrambles in a chaotic fight for food, space, and resources – with a mass die-off and extinction of creatures likely resulting.

The research underscores the dire need for human societies to control rampant climate change before the biodiversity and ecological health of the planet is pushed past the point of no return.

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Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever

Elias Marat

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Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.

Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.

In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.

At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.

“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.

“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”

The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.

Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.

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