An international team of researchers lead by the University of Exeter have discovered that the deteriorating Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia is making a lot less noise than it did five years ago. The noises emitted at the reef are actually created by the creatures living in the reef, such as snapping shrimp, damselfish, and clownfish. The scientists believe the reef is getting quieter because sea animals are leaving the dying reef.
“It’s heart-breaking to hear. The usual pops, chirps, snaps and chatters of countless fish and invertebrates have disappeared. The symphony of the sea is being silenced”, Tim Gordon, marine biologist at the University of Exeter said.
This may also present a problem for baby fish, who find suitable homes in the reef based on the noises they hear. It means that reefs are becoming more and more unattractive habitats for fish, which is devastating for the reef’s survival.
“If fish aren’t hearing their way home anymore, that could be bad news for the recovery prospects of reefs. Fish play critical roles on coral reefs, grazing away harmful algae and allowing coral to grow. A reef without fish is a reef that’s in trouble,” Harry Harding, researcher from the University of Bristol explained.
See (and hear) a video by the BBC on the sounds of the Great Barrier Reef: