Left: Tim Lamont, University of Exeter, Right: The Ocean Agency
The visual difference between a healthy coral reef and a degraded one is striking.
The sounds of healthy and unhealthy reefs are different, too — but for an untrained ear, they’re not as easy to decipher.
The Ocean Agency
Can you hear the difference between a healthy reef and a degraded reef?
Give it a try:
Tim Lamont, University of Exeter
Reef 1 was degraded, and Reef 2 was healthy. If this feels like a trick question, know that the noise both make is similar — but to a trained ear, there are important distinctions.
Researchers can use reef soundscapes to monitor health conditions over time. Typically, they spend hours sorting through the data manually.
The researchers trained artificial intelligence to listen to the sounds of different reefs and detect extremely subtle variations in their audio.
The researchers trained the AI to predict reef health using their recording data.
An AI program that quickly and accurately determines reef health is a boon to monitoring and conservation efforts, the researchers say.
"This is a really exciting development. Sound recorders and AI could be used around the world to monitor the health of reefs, and discover whether attempts to protect and restore them are working.”