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Tuesday, June 18 2019 @ 09:08 PM UTC

'Noise' is symptom of coral reef health

Environmental IssuesBRISTOL, England (UPI) -- Coral reefs can be surprisingly noisy places and the noise level is a good indication of the reef's overall health, U.K. scientists say. Researchers at the University of Bristol in England say coral reef inhabitants, such as fish and invertebrates, produce clicks and grunts that add up to considerable cacophonies, a university release reports. Analyzing recordings of coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean near Panama, Bristol marine biologists found some reefs are noisier than others, and these differences provide useful information about the state of the reef. Healthier reefs were louder, with a clear association between overall noise level generated and the amount of living coral, the researchers found.

"This study provides evidence that reef generated sound contains a real richness of information," Bristol University scientist Steve Simpson said. "This would provide fish and invertebrates with the cues they need to assess the quality of potential settlement sites before they can see them, a bit like wandering around a music festival eavesdropping on different bands before choosing where to pitch your tent. "It may even provide the information that enables some fish to return to the very reef on which they were originally spawned."

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