You may not expect any research coming out of our Entertainment Engineering group to make its way onto the BBC’s Blue Planet II, but that’s just what happened last Sunday! The segment starts around 11:23.

Dr Adam Hill was brought in to contribute to a project looking into ways to judge the health of coral reefs. Adam used part of an algorithm which he developed for a previous research project looking into virtual bass synthesis (a method of tricking the brain into perceiving low-frequency content in musical signal where little to none is actually present) to analyse the sounds from various creatures living in and around the reef to give an estimate of the reef’s health.

Coral reef photo.

Simply put, the more sharp clicks and pops coming from the reef, the healthier the reef must be. It is thought that these cues are what attract creatures to healthy reefs and what keep them from the unhealthy ones.

Dr Steve Simpson of Exeter University (a co-author of the papers done with Adam and the rest of the team) was featured on the final episode of Blue Planet II talking about the various ways in which sea creatures around coral reefs use sound in their daily lives. He also contributed a post to the show’s website, going into a bit more detail on the subject.

Underwater research photo.

Steve Simpson taking making recordings with his hydrophone
(image credit: BBC)

While Adam’s role in this project was relatively small considering the scope of the of the larger project, it was still great to see some of our group’s research contributions getting the spotlight.

For further reading, you can check out a press release from the University of Derby when this research was first published in 2014. The two journal papers stemming from this work can be accessed here and here.

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