Over the past two centuries, oyster reefs that were once active and effective underwater metropolises crucial to our marine ecosystems, have become almost abandoned in Australia with over 99% of these reefs completely degraded.
However, thanks to our researchers, our coastlines are undergoing a revival. In a creative and innovative experiment, our ecological experts utilised underwater speakers to mimic the vibrant sounds of healthy reefs, and the results exceeded all expectations. The once-quiet ocean floor transformed into a lively underwater symphony, attracting an impressive number of 17,000 additional oysters per square metre. These new recruits are actively engaged in growth, water filtration, and the formation of intricate habitats for various other marine species to thrive. Encouraged by this success, researchers now believe that incorporating underwater soundscapes could be a cost-effective strategy to expedite the restoration of oyster habitats.
In this latest Research Tuesdays video, learn how two leading University of Adelaide researchers reawakened the reefs.
Recorded at the Research Tuesdays public lecture series event in July 2023.
Dr Dominic McAfee is an Australian Research Council (ARC) grant-funded researcher in the Environment Institute and School of Biological Sciences at the University of Adelaide. In 2020 his research with national colleagues won the prestigious Eureka Prize for Applied Environmental Research. In 2021 he became a South Australian Young Tall Poppy Science Award winner.
Professor Sean Connell is also a member of the Environment Institute and co-leads the Food and Water Futures Program at the University of Adelaide. He plays a pivotal role in advising governmental decision-makers on policies essential for the preservation of marine life in Australia. Sean’s research has inspired the restoration of 1.1 kilometres of oyster reef and set in motion new infrastructure to improve coastal water quality.