Since the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, this day has sparked hundreds of thousands of efforts to raise awareness about the nature that surrounds us. On today’s Earth Day, the Mission-Aransas Reserve at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute is collaborating on a national pilot study to record the sounds of nature in bays and estuaries across the country. The Mission-Aransas Reserve, along with collaborators at four other National Estuarine Research Reserves (Wells, Jacques Cousteau, Waquiot Bay, and Kachemak Bay), the University of New Hampshire, and St. Joseph’s College of Maine are looking compare biodiversity and impacts of human-derived sounds.
Each collaborator placed at least one sound recording instrument within their bays and estuaries to record sounds for 24-hours during Earth Day on April 22, 2019. These instruments will record sounds of marsh birds, insects, and other animals, as well as all human-made sounds like road, water, and air traffic. Some of the animals can be very secretive and difficult to spot. The sound recording instrument provides a solution to counting cryptic species through their sounds. At the Mission-Aransas Reserve, deployment of the new instruments will record sounds around-the-clock, which will give researchers information on how many types of birds and other animals use the local marsh systems, and how human-made sounds maybe impacting them.