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  • As the sun rises over a quiet coral reef, one animal breaks the morning silence.

    譯者: Lilian Chiu 審譯者: Helen Chang

  • Named for their vibrant scales and beak-like teeth,

    隨著太陽升起到 安靜的珊瑚礁上方,

  • these parrotfish are devouring a particularly crunchy breakfast: rocks.


  • It may not be immediately clear why any creature would take bites

    這些鸚哥魚的名字來自牠們 顏色鮮明的鱗片及像鳥喙般的牙齒,

  • out of the seafloor.

    牠們正在狼吞虎嚥地吃 一種特別酥脆的早餐:

  • But the diet of these flashy foragers actually plays a key role


  • in defending the coral reef's complex ecosystem.


  • Massive coral reefs begin with tiny coral larvae,


  • which settle on the seafloor's hard surfaces

    但這些俗豔的搶食者 其實扮演了一個關鍵角色:

  • and metamorphasize into coral polyps.


  • Over time, these polyps generate rock-like skeletons

    大型珊瑚礁一開始 也只是小型的珊瑚幼蟲,

  • made of calcium carbonate.


  • Together, colonies of polyps produce large three-dimensional structures,


  • which form the basis of an underwater metropolis.

    隨時間,這些珊瑚蟲 會產生像岩石一樣的骨骼,

  • These coral complexes are full of nooks and crannies


  • that house and protect countless life forms.

    成群的珊瑚蟲一起製造出 大型的立體結構,

  • Even though coral reefs occupy less than one percent of the ocean floor,


  • these dense ecosystems are home to more than twenty-five percent of marine life.

    這些珊瑚構成的結構中 滿是隱蔽處和裂縫,

  • Many fish use corals as shelters for sleeping and to hide from large predators


  • between their trips foraging for seaweed.

    雖然珊瑚礁只佔據 不到 1% 的海底面積,

  • As the primary food source for many of the reef's fish and invertebrates,

    有超過 25% 的海洋生命

  • seaweed is vital to this ecosystem.


  • But in high densities, seaweed can become problematic,

    許多魚類用珊瑚當作 庇護所,可以在裡面睡覺,

  • and even lethal to corals.

    也可以在搜尋海草的過程中 到此躲避捕食性動物。

  • Seaweed grows on the same hard open surfaces that coral larvae rely on,

    海草是許多珊瑚礁魚類 及無脊椎動物的主要食物來源,

  • and their growth prevents new coral from settling and expanding.


  • These competitors have also evolved a variety of ways to kill existing corals,

    但若密度過高, 海草有可能帶來麻煩,

  • including smothering and abrasion.


  • Some seaweed species even engage in chemical warfare

    海草就生長在珊瑚幼蟲 所仰賴的堅硬開放表面上,

  • synthesizing compounds that destroy coral on contact.

    海草的生長會阻撓 新的珊瑚定居、拓展。

  • This is where parrotfish come in.

    這些競爭者也演化出多種 可以殺死既有珊瑚的方式,

  • Like many reef fish, these colorful creatures eat seaweed.


  • But unlike their neighbors,

    有些種類的海草 甚至會打化學戰——

  • parrotfish can completely remove even the tiniest scraps of seaweed

    合成一些化合物來摧毀 它們接觸到的珊瑚。

  • from the ocean floor.


  • Their so-called beak is actually a mosaic of tightly-packed teeth

    和許多珊瑚礁魚類一樣, 這些多彩的生物也吃海草維生。

  • which can scrape and grind rock,


  • allowing them to consume every bit of seaweed covering a stony surface.


  • This helps parrotfish reach seaweed other fish can't consume,


  • while simultaneously clearing out open space for new corals

    牠們所謂的喙,其實是 緊緊鑲嵌在一起的牙齒,

  • to settle and existing colonies to expand.


  • Eating rocks is just one way parrotfish help manage seaweed.

    讓牠們可以將覆蓋在石頭 表面上的所有海草都吃光。

  • Through a dynamic system of social networks,

    這個特點讓鸚哥魚能夠吃到 其他魚類無法吃到的海草,

  • parrotfish can convey information to other coral dwelling fish.

    同時,還能為新珊瑚 清理出開放空間,

  • Each fish's presence and simple routine behaviors produce sensory information


  • that nearby fish can see, hear, or smell.

    吃岩石只是鸚哥魚 協助整理海草的方式之一。

  • They can even detect changes in water pressure produced by their neighbors


  • using a special sensory organ.

    鸚哥魚可以傳遞資訊給 其他住在珊瑚中的魚類。

  • All these factors can inform the behavior of nearby fish.

    每條魚的出現及簡單的例行行為 都會產生出感官資訊,

  • For example, a fish safely entering an open feeding ground

    鄰近的魚類可以 看見、聽見,或聞到。

  • and not getting attacked means it's safe to forage.

    牠們甚至可以用 一種特殊的感覺器官

  • Conversely, a fish rapidly leaving a location can provide an early warning


  • that a threat is approaching.

    所有這些因素,都能傳遞 鄰近魚類的行為資訊。

  • By simply trying to stay alive,

    比如,一條魚安全地 進入了開放的攝食場,

  • these reef fish can incidentally help their neighbors survive

    且沒有遭受攻擊,就表示 可以安心在那裡覓食。

  • and more of these fish means less seaweed.


  • Unfortunately, human activities over the last several decades

    就是一種預先警示, 表示有威脅迫近。

  • have disrupted almost every part of this complex system.

    這些珊瑚礁魚類只是 單純地試圖活下去,

  • In many coral reefs, overfishing has reduced the number of parrotfish,

    無意間也協助了 牠們的鄰居求生存——

  • as well as other seaweed eaters, such as surgeonfish and rabbitfish.


  • This has led to unchecked seaweed growth,

    不幸的是,在過去 數十年間的人類活動

  • which threatens to degrade entire coral reefs.

    幾乎把這個複雜系統的 每個部分都破壞了。

  • The parrotfish that remain live in much smaller communities.

    在許多珊瑚礁地區,過度捕撈 已經造成鸚哥魚數量減少,

  • Their reduced numbers can weaken their social network,

    其他吃海草的生物如刺尾鯛魚 及籃子魚也同樣不斷減少。

  • making surviving fish more timid and less effective at controlling seaweed.

    這個現象導致海草 可以無法無天地生長,

  • Today, climate change and pollution are lowering coral's natural defenses

    因而產生讓整個 珊瑚礁劣化的威脅。

  • while contributing to runaway seaweed growth

    剩下的鸚哥魚生活在 小很多的群落中。

  • leaving reef ecosystems more fragile than ever.

    牠們的數量減少,會導致 牠們的社交網路變弱,

  • Our reefs are vitally important to both marine and human life.

    讓存活下來的魚類更膽怯, 且無法有效控制海草。

  • Their unparalleled biodiversity offers unique opportunities for ecotourism,

    現今,氣候變遷和污染都造成 珊瑚的天然防禦能力下降,

  • sustainable fishing, and scientific research,


  • while their rocky structures guard coastlines from waves and storm surges.

    造成珊瑚礁生態系統 比以往都更脆弱。

  • Fortunately, continued research into reef species

    珊瑚礁對於海洋生命 及人類生命都極其重要。

  • like the quirky and critical parrotfish can inform new strategies

    它們無比的生物多樣性,提供了 獨特的機會,可以做生態旅遊、

  • for preserving these essential ecosystems.


As the sun rises over a quiet coral reef, one animal breaks the morning silence.

譯者: Lilian Chiu 審譯者: Helen Chang


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B2 中高級 中文 珊瑚礁 魚類 生態 幼蟲 岩石 生長

The big-beaked, rock-munching fish that protect coral reefs - Mike Gil

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    林宜悉 發佈於 2020 年 10 月 25 日