MIAMI

Coral Reef Soundscape Captured On Film (VIDEO)

10/26/2012 01:15 pm ET | Updated Oct 26, 2012

What does a coral reef sound like? Perhaps surprisingly, it isn't a cacophony of indie-band boings and wriggles.

In fact, thanks to University of Miami PhD candidate Erica Staaterman, you can hear a Florida coral reef in the video above, which documents her research into the behavior of pelagic fish larvae.

Billions of such "baby fish" are born every year, but must find their way to a coral reef to survive -- a needle in a haystack journey, as Staaterman describes it. For her research at UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, she set out to determine whether larval fish use the soundscape of the reef as a navigational tool.

The project, which in video form is a finalist in the National Science Foundation's "Creating the Future" contest, involves playing the reef back to fish larvae in a special underwater chamber and then documenting their behavior.

(To us it sounds like frying bacon, but maybe we're just typing hungry.)

"Coral reefs comprise less than 1 percent of the ocean, but they are one of the most important areas on the planet both ecologically and economically," Staaterman says in her video. "Due to human impacts like overfishing and climate change, they're also one of the most threatened marine habitats. We need to discover how fish larvae find their way home, because the replenishment of reef fish populations depends upon the success of this next generation."

Click above to hear the abiotic and biological symphony of a Florida coral reef, and vote here for Staaterman's video.

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