Returning home by the sound of the reef

Returning home by the sound of the reef

Scientists have found that when the free-swimming larvae of corals, ufabet, fish, crabs and lobsters return from the open ocean, they can use sounds from the reef to select and locate a suitable place to settle.

Returning home by the sound of the reef

Returning home by the sound of the reef

Larvae probably detect the sounds made by adult fish and many of the reef’s invertebrate species, including snapping shrimp and gnawing sea urchins, which provide a beacon to guide their return. The sounds may even be imprinted on them.

Clownfish embryos respond to sounds for a whole week, so before they get washed out into the open ocean they might develop a ‘memory’ of their home reef, the place where their parents lived and had successfully reproduced.

When close to a reef with a similar soundscape, it’s an indication that it’s the right place to go to. The reef sounds ยูฟ่าเบท also induce a change in swimming behaviour, and cause the larvae to change anatomically and physiologically into a form ready to settle on the reef.

As soon as they reach the reef, some fish begin to make sounds themselves. Like youngsters the world over, fish larvae are exceptionally noisy. Young grey snappers, for example, produce knock’ and ‘growl’sounds that are similar to those of their parents. The chorus occurs at night, so it is thought to be a way in which snapper larvae stay together, seeking protection in a group while so young and vulnerable.

The downside of this reliance on auditory cues is that the sounds made by humans, such as the noise from ships’ engines, motorboats, pile drivers and wind turbines, could interfere with the ability of larvae to find the right reef on which to settle.

The upside is that, by broadcasting the relevant sounds underwater, scientists learn to play Pied Piper, attracting larvae to reefs that have been damaged by bleaching, like those in the ufabet northern part of the Great Barrier Reef, to help them recover.

Either way, what is exciting scientifically is the prospect of a tiny fish larva hearing the sound of its own species, rather than those of predators, or hearing the general sound of the reef to assess its quality, and that this might incline it to settle in a particular spot. It was once thought that the way larvae landed on a reef was pure luck.

Evidently it’s not… These tiny fish have far greater control over their destiny.