February 11, 2011


Scientists have discovered that baby crustaceans - lobsters, crabs, shrimps, and barnacles - can hear, and they listen to underwater noise to protect themselves from predators.

Even though these baby shellfish are only the size of the flea, they have a hearing system that lets them hear grunts, smacks and gurgles made by fish and other larger creatures that would otherwise eat them.

Coral Reefs are the big "cities" of the ocean - teeming with fish and other marine life. "The coral reef is like a ‘wall of mouths’ to these animals, so when they hear noise, they avoid it," says Dr Steve Simpson, a marine biologist at the University of Bristol. "Otherwise, they’d always be eaten by fish."

Why does the fact that a tiny shellfish is able to hear matter to us? Humans make a lot of noise in the ocean, from boat engines to activities like dynamite fishing and deepwater drilling. If our loud noises mask the crucial natural sounds near coral reefs, vulnerable larvae will be in danger of being consumed by larger predators. Why should this matter? Humans are part of the web of life on our planet Earth. Each kind of life is like a single strand in the web. By itself, no one strand may seem so important. But all the strands make up the web and the weekness of one strand weekens the entire web.


Photo: AustralianMuseum.net

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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