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Calling the corals home

Ed Yong at Discover Blogs has a great post up about a PLoS One paper describing how coral larvae find their way back to the reef from the plankton, using sound.  This is a remarkable ability for a tiny ciliated ball of cells, demonstrated through a nifty experiment where the scientists played sound from different directions into a dish of tubes containing coral larvae and showed that they moved towards the speaker playing sounds from a reef.

Putting aside the remarkable little larvae, maybe we shouldn't be surprised. Anyone who has ever put their head underwater on a reef, especially a Pacific reef, can tell you they are noisy places.  I always thought it sounded like frying bacon - a sizzling crackle of clicks, pops, scrapes and cracks, courtesy of snapping shrimps, parrotfish and a myriad other beasts.  The first time I heard that sound I remember being startled, and then amazed.  Serene underwater scenes?  Serene, my butt!

Reader Comments (2)

Funnily enough I am sitting with my friend who has come to visit me from NZ. His PhD in NZ showed that larval fish are attracted to temperate reefs using underwater sound.

May 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Bassett

I guess what surprised me was that coral larvae don't show much sign of being able to hear. I mean, fish have ears and swim bladders and such, whereas a planula just looks like a ciliated blob. I wonder how the detect the sound?

May 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAl Dove

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