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Shrimp And Sea Urchins Make Noisy Guides

Snapping Shrimp And Feeding Sea Urchins Make Noisy Guides

Research that shows fish and crabs swim towards the source of underwater sound, potentially offering a technique for re-stocking depleted reefs, has won scientist Dr Craig Radford a prize in the MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards.

Using an underwater listening device, Dr Radford identified snapping shrimps and feeding sea urchins as making the loudest sounds beneath the ocean. His study also showed underwater ambient noise around New Zealand’s coast gets louder twice a day with the sound of shrimp rapidly closing their claws and sea urchins scraping their teeth on rocks while feeding being major contributors to increased noise levels at both dawn and dusk.

Craig, who is based at the University of Auckland’s Leigh marine laboratory, is runner-up in the Understanding Planet Earth category of the MacDiarmid Awards, which are presented by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology with Fisher & Paykel Appliances as principal sponsor.

Fish and crab larvae are frequently dispersed tens of kilometres out to sea and Craig set out to investigate how they get back to the coast. He found that reef fish and crab species swim towards underwater sound, concluding that noise generated around the coast plays an important role in guiding baby fish and crustaceans to a suitable habitat in which they can settle.

Craig says replicating underwater sounds could be a means of attracting fish back to depleted reefs and helping fish and crabs to flourish in reefs which have been slow to colonise.

He is currently completing a post doctoral fellowship with the University of Auckland, continuing research into how larval fish and crabs use underwater sound as an orientation cue. This includes trying to determine the frequencies they are listening to, how loud underwater sound needs to be for them to hear it and how far offshore they can pick up sound.

Craig attended Melville High School in Hamilton, completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Waikato, his Masters at the University of Canterbury and his PhD at the University of Auckland.
He is collaborating on his research into underwater sound with scientific teams in Australia and the United Kingdom and was invited to present his findings at the 8th Larval Biology Symposium in Portugal in July of this year.


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