Oysters can hear, and baby oysters will swim to areas that emit habitat-friendly sounds to plant themselves, according to marine biologists at the School of Biological Sciences, the University of Adelaide.
What to Know
Oyster larvae are brainless and earless, but they hear by detecting and interpreting the movement of water particles stirred up by sound waves as they pass, using tiny sensory hairs that they also use for balance and orientation.
Water movement causes different habitats to emit different sounds, and those sound waves alternately squeeze and stretch water particles, sending vibrations in the direction the sound wave is traveling.
If baby oysters start hearing sounds that are related to desirable habitat-related reefs, they will actively swim horizontally for as much as 4 miles toward the source and then drop down to plant themselves.
Soundscapes from habitat-friendly areas can broadcast over a large area and signal a desirable location for oyster larvae looking for a rock to settle on and begin growing their shell.
Responding to the habitat-related sounds allows the baby oysters to recruit in greater numbers in the field. Those sound cues can also be used to draw oyster larvae in efforts to restore oyster reefs to restore healthy ecosystems.
This is a summary of the article, “Oyster Larvae Swim Along Gradients of Sound,” published in the Journal of Applied Ecology on October 28, 2022. The full article can be found on besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com.
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