The main goal of the passive acoustics research at Florida Oceanographic is to develop methodologies to monitor oyster reef health using sound. Passive acoustics uses the naturally occurring sounds produced by the animals that live in the reefs.
Some animals like the naked goby, snapping shrimp and toadfish intentionally produced sounds to communicate during mating, aggression and feeding. Other animals produce sounds accidentally while swimming, moving and feeding.
At Florida Oceanographic we use the sounds all these animals produce to obtain information about the oyster reef. Oyster reefs are important ecosystems because they provide habitat for up to 300 animal species. We use equipment like high tech underwater microphones (called hydrophones), recorders and data analyzers to interpret the data we collect in the field.
Although assessment of oyster reef restoration can be monitored doing direct sampling of the reef, passive acoustics is a new methodology that can efficiently and inexpensively monitor oyster reefs in a non-invasive manner. Furthermore, this technology can also be applied to other marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs and rocky reefs.