(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.”
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Blue Whales Return to Spain’s Coast After Disappearing for 40 Years
Blue whales have been returning to the Atlantic coast of Spain after an absence of over 40 years in the region, when whaling industries drove the species to the brink of extinction.
Blue whales, which are the world’s largest mammals, had long disappeared from the region until the recent sightings.
The first was spotted off the coast of Galicia near Ons Island by marine biologist Bruno Díaz, who heads the Bottlenose Dolphin Research.
Another one of the majestic creatures was spotted the following year in 2018 and yet another in 2019. In 2020, two whales again made their return to the area.
It remains unclear as of yet as to why the creatures have returned to the area, but controls on local whaling industries are believed to play a role.
“I believe the moratorium on whaling has been a key factor,” Díaz remarked, according to the Guardian. “In the 1970s, just before the ban was introduced, an entire generation of blue whales disappeared. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re seeing the return of the descendants of the few that survived.”
Whaling had been a traditional industry in Galicia for hundreds of years before Spain finally acted to ban whaling in 1986, long after the blue whale’s presence in the region had faded away.
Some fear that the return of the massive sea mammals is a sign of global warming.
“I’m pessimistic because there’s a high possibility that climate change is having a major impact on the blue whale’s habitat,” said marine biologist Alfredo López in comments to La Voz de Galicia.
“Firstly, because they never venture south of the equator, and if global warming pushes this line north, their habitat will be reduced,” he continued “And secondly, if it means the food they normally eat is disappearing, then what we’re seeing is dramatic and not something to celebrate.”
Díaz said that while the data certainly supports this theory, it is too early to determine climate as the precise cause.
“It is true that the data we have points to this trend [climate change] but it is not enough yet,” he told Público news.
Another possibility is that the ancestral memory of the old creatures or even a longing for their home may offer an explanation, according to Díaz.
“In recent years it’s been discovered that the blue whale’s migration is driven by memory, not by environmental conditions,” he said. “This year there hasn’t been a notable increase in plankton, but here they are. Experiences are retained in the collective memory and drive the species to return.”
In recent years, researchers have found that migratory patterns are also driven by the cultural knowledge existing in many groups of species.
Researchers believe this type of folk memory, or cultural knowledge, exists in many species and is key to their survival.
A typical blue whale is 20-24 metres long and weighs 120 tonnes – equivalent to 16 elephants – but specimens of up to 30 metres and 170 tonnes have been found.