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The Green Life: Just Listen to the Fish

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September 27, 2010

Just Listen to the Fish

Coral reefs The colorful inhabitants of what one may think of as a silent world are finally being heard. Scientists put their ears to the seas and found a new way to evaluate the condition of coral reefs: listen to the fish.

By dropping a cable equipped with an underwater recording device off the side of a boat in the Las Perlas Archipelago in Pacific Panama, marine biologists snagged a two-minute recording of loud clicks and grunts. Comparing those to recordings of noises recorded at other reefs led them to believe that each reef has its own symphony of noises — and the louder the sounds, apparently, the healthier the reef.

The study, which didn't require big teams of divers nor large quantities of equipment, highlights the potential for using audio recordings to monitor the health of underwater ecosystems. With the threat of losing up to 70% of coral reefs by 2050 looming, let's keep our ears open.

--Molly Oleson

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