NC State Researchers Say Oysters Let Sounds Carry Them Home

Nov 6, 2013

A new study out of N.C. State demonstrates how oysters may rely on sound to navigate to their permanent homes on the reef.

The Center for Marine Sciences and Technology at NC State
Credit NC State

Ashlee Lillis is a researcher in the marine sciences department at N.C. State. She recorded underwater sounds then tested larval oysters to determine whether settlement rates increased when they were exposed to reef sounds versus the open sea floor. 

“We've got differences in water flow over a hard structure compared to just a sandy bottom that's going to make it distinct as well as a lot of fish,” says Lillis.

“Those fish called drums and grunts and croakers are referred to because of the sounds they make.”

Lillis says oyster reefs around the world have declined by about 85 percent over the past century due to dredging and over-harvesting.  She says the research could help scientists to develop artificial oyster reefs.

The study is published in the current online journal, PLOS ONE.