Reefs Saved by Speakers

Scientists Discover How Speakers May Help Restore Previously Thriving Aquatic Ecosystems

Diver underwater with speaker in coral reef (image courtesy of

Lena Edwards, Staff Writer

Coral reefs, some of the world’s largest underwater ecosystems, have been dying at increasingly concerning rates. Because of this, teams of scientists from the University of Exeter traveled to the Great Barrier Reef on the Australian coast and found a new way to help repair the damage in these reefs: sound.

The scientists from Exeter played recordings of healthy reefs, luring in young fish. According to this team of scientists, around twice as many fish stayed compared to areas where no sound played (Exeter).

Image of one of the underwater speakers (courtesy of

“Healthy coral reefs are remarkably noisy places,” said senior author and professor Steve Simpson. “The crackle of snapping shrimp and the whoops and grunts of fish combine to form a dazzling biological soundscape… 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.”

Not only did the number of fish double, but so did the number of species in the area. A large variety of creatures from all levels of the food chain were brought in by the new sounds (CBS).

“Fish are crucial for coral reefs to function as healthy ecosystems,” Timothy A.C. Gordon, lead author of the study. “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.”

With this new discovery, coral reefs may be able to grow from where they are now, with about one-fifth of coral reefs already degraded or lost completely (The World Counts).