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Digital technology helps with fish conservation

By Tim Sandle     Jul 15, 2017 in Environment
Conservationists are harnessing digital technology to assess the numbers of threatened and endangered species. One application includes the digital recording of fish songs to track populations.
Listening to fish songs can be quite revealing, although the process of doing so requires sophisticated technology. For example, when one fish species gathers to mate, the sound of its mating “song” reverberates through the water. By tuning into these types of sounds, researchers can use data analytics to estimate how many of a certain type of fish are around. This information can then be used to determine whether certain communities of fish require protecting.
The recording and analysis of fish-songs has been proposed by Timothy Rowell, who is a scientist base at the Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, U.S. To test out his method, Rowell has been examining the Gulf corvina (Cynoscion othonopterus). This fish species is a popular food in Mexico during Lent; however, concerns have been raised about population numbers in some regions of water. Gulf corvina is found only in the cooler northern waters of the Gulf of California and the Colorado River delta.
Locally caught Corvina with papas arrugadas at Casa Torano  El Golfo  Lanzarote  Canary Islands.
Locally caught Corvina with papas arrugadas at Casa Torano, El Golfo, Lanzarote, Canary Islands.
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For the method, Science News reports, Rowell and his colleagues used hydrophones — microphones that work underwater - to digitally record the fish. the information was then run through computers and maps were produced to allow for the tracking of fish numbers. The sounds were compared to sonar measurements, with good correlation. This indicated that the digital audio captured method was successful.
The novel approach for assessing fish populations by audio recordings has been outlined in a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports. The research is headed "Estimating fish abundance at spawning aggregations from courtship sound levels."
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