A recent study by Dr. Steve Simpson and team from the United Kingdom’s University of Bristol working at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, has shown that noise pollution can influence the judgment of young fish, leading them away from the protection offered by their natural habitats.
The team built on previous findings that baby tropical fish born at sea are able to return to protective coral reefs based on sounds that are emitted from reef-dwelling organisms.
The scientists thus introduced one group of baby damselfish to natural reef sounds only and another to a combination of synthesized tones. Placing the fish the following day into tube-shaped tanks that offered a choice of direction, they observed that only the group with direct experience ofthe natural sounds swam toward the reef; the other group was actually repelled and would swim away.
Besides highlighting the grave danger to young fish, who might mistakenly follow a ship out to sea rather than traveling to where they could grow in safety, this study also clearly demonstrates the persistent memory of fish in recalling events from the day before.
Dr. Simpson’s team recommended more stringent laws to protect reef areas from noise as well as interim technologies such as “bubble curtains” in certain regions to create insulation from potentially dangerous sounds.
Many thanks Dr. Simpson and University of Bristol colleagues for these findings that highlight both the intelligence and sensitivity of our aquatic co-inhabitants.
May we act responsibly and with respect to protect their lives and the ecosystems that are vital to our own survival. Supreme Master Ching Hai has many times reminded of the unconditional love and necessary balance offered by our fellow beings in all corners of the Earth, as during the following August 2009 videoconference in Thailand.