If you’re of a certain age chances are the first time you saw coral reefs were from the movie Finding Nemo. In reality though, coral reefs are some of the most vulnerable ecosystems in the world, and ongoing climate change isn’t helping either. A couple of scientists think they can help change that, but they’re going to need your help.
In a new project called Calling in our Corals, marine ecologist at Silliman University Mary Shodipo and professor of marine biology Steve Simpson from University of Bristol along with Google Arts and Culture are looking for members of the public to help them listen to the coral reefs. Basically, they’ve placed a bunch of hydrophones on various coral reefs around the world which will record the sounds of marine life. If they played back sounds of healthy coral reefs in damaged habitats, it can help bring in new life—hence the name.
“Coral reefs are surprisingly noisy places, but where they are damaged or overfished, they become quieter due to the lack of marine life.
In some locations, our research involves placing sound recorders inside marine protected areas (where there is no fishing) and in nearby fished areas for comparison, to listen in on the benefits of protection.
In other locations, we are comparing sites that have declined due to overfishing and poor water quality with those where we are actively restoring coral reefs by replanting corals and rebuilding habitats,” – Steve Simpson and Mary Shodipo
Here’s where you come in. You can click here to visit the Calling in our Corals page on Google Arts and Culture, and then you’ll be given recordings to listen to from 10 reefs around the world. It’ll train you first on how to recognise the sound of fish activity, which means a healthier coral reef. Then you’ll be put to the test, listening to 30 second coral reef clips and confirming whether or not you heard the fish. You can watch this video below for more details:
Google and the researchers are hoping that with the public’s help, they can start training AI models to listen to these coral reefs. This can help accelerate the monitoring of reefs and to see how well their restoration programmes have been. The Calling in our Corals experiment will only take you three minutes, and as mentioned before you can click here to take part.