After the flood: listening to changed ecosystems

Site no.1: creek

It has been a couple of weeks since the local floods and I thought it would be interesting to listen for any changes in the aquatic ecosystem. Over the years I have recorded this particular creek numerous times. This site is normally fairly quiet, I sit on the bank watching eels and turtles but not much can be heard through my hydrophones. With no shade and nothing to listen to the fangs of the sun normally drive me away fairly quickly.

However today was quite a different listening experience. As the recording shows the sound of creek bugs communicating with each other under water was quite strong. Had the flood altered the habitat, replenishing the creek with nutrients? I’ll save that question for the biologists to answer.

Site no. 2: dam

Site no. 2, a murky stagnant dam.  Snakes and march flies are usually the only thing to keep me company at this site, it is not really an idyllic place to listen to the world unfurl.

This body of water has only ever yielded the faint sounds of something scratching at the hydrophones. However again I was surprised to hear the dam teeming with life. A chorus of high-pitched voices could be heard drowning each other out. Because of the lack of visibility it was impossible to see what was producing the sound. I imagined tiny little water bugs having some kind of a party down there (all of them holding glasses of champagne in their tiny pincers).

One of the reasons I was interested in field recording years ago was because of the idea that I could become part of the acoustic ecology movement. This idea faded when I realised the limitations of my knowledge nonetheless listening experiences such as the one today are a good reminder of the many facets that field recording encompasses.

In the meantime, I’d be interested to know if anyone can identify what the water bugs are through these recordings. Maybe there is an aquatic biologist out there …


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