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REservation for Two (Species): Fisherman And Dolphins Are Grabbing A Bite At The Same NY Artificial Reef
Researchers used an underwater microphone to capture unique sounds made by species at the reef

STONY BROOK, NY - May 24, 2018 – There’s plenty of fish in the sea for human fisherman and bottlenose dolphins to feast on and now, according to a study by researchers at Stony Brook University published in Marine Mammal Science , both species are using a New York artificial reef at the same time to find fish to eat – a new finding.

 Using an underwater microphone deployed at 55 feet on an artificial reef three miles south of Atlantic Beach on Long Island, researchers were able to observe the sounds made by both species to determine eating habits and timing. Stony Brook graduate student in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and lead author, Colin Wirth, listened to recordings from a six-day period in June 2015 and identified sounds from human activity (recreational boat engine noise), bottlenose dolphins and noise-making fish (weakfish, oyster toadfish.) 

“Dolphins make lots of very different sounds – whistles to communicate, clicks to find fish and even one that sounds like a gun going off. Boat noises are very distinct, you can hear the engines go in and of gear, so you can tell when boats are drifting at idle or are moving back and forth over the reef. It’s interesting to think about how we used the sounds to identify what fish were present and wonder if the dolphins are doing the same thing,” said Wirth.

The underwater microphone also captured sounds from animals that were not seen visually during numerous visits to the reef. “With the planned expansion of the NY artificial reef program by New York State, there are numerous opportunities to extend this work to multiple locations and new sites to further study how humans and dolphins (as well as other species) are sharing these habitats,” said Joe Warren, Stony Brook University SoMAS Associate Professor, Wirth’s advisor and co-author of the study.

Multiple artificial reefs have been constructed by New York State and are designed to attract fish and provide a productive location for recreational fisherman to use.

For the full study visit https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mms.12515

Sound Check
According to researchers, boat noises began to rise in the early morning before tapering off in the mid-afternoon and were louder on weekends than on weekdays. While dolphin noises were heard regularly at the reef both day and night. During the loudest times of the study (weekend mornings) there were periods where no dolphin noises were heard. “During 100s of miles of boat surveys and dozens of SCUBA dives at the artificial reef sites, none of us ever saw a dolphin, so I was completely surprised when Colin told me that he was hearing them regularly in the recordings. Using an underwater microphone provided us a unique view of what animals (including humans) are doing at these sites,” said Prof. Warren.

This research was partially supported by funding from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

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This underwater microphone heard people and dolphins using an artificial reef in New York to find fish to eat.

 

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Co-author Dr. Joseph Warren recovers the underwater microphone that was deployed on a New York artificial reef to study how humans and dolphins use the reef as a food source.

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  About the School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences
The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) is SUNY’s designated school for marine and atmospheric research, education and public service. SoMAS is one of the leading coastal oceanography institutions in the world and features classrooms on the water. The School is also the focus for the study of atmospheric sciences and meteorology and includes the Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres, Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, Institute for Particle-Related Environmental Processes, Living Marine Resources Institute, Waste Reduction and Management Institute and Long Island Groundwater Research Institute.

About Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become a flagship as one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 26,000 students and 2,600 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 50 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University is a driving force in the region’s economy, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of more than $4.6 billion. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.  

 

 

 

 
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