We all know that coral reef systems can produce some of the most mind-blowing fishing in tropical waters,
and that healthiest reefs are often those with teeming fish communities, but researchers are only now starting to unpick the reasons why, and it might surprise you. It’s pee.
You heard right…Fish pee.
Often reef systems are located in waters so pristine they are low in natural nutrient levels. And recent international research has revealed that when schools of reef-associated species such as sweetlip mill around over coral heads in low nutrient environments they excrete ammonium, phosphorus and nitrogen which promotes coral growth. Coral heads with resident populations were observed to grow faster than those without.
What’s more, the scientists found that bigger fish excrete more nutrients than smaller fish, and carnivorous fish were found to be particularly strong contributors.
This research is an interesting reminder that taking too many fish or excessively harvesting bigger predatory fish can impact on our aquatic ecosystems in ways that can be complex, and hard to predict.
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