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Coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef


Coral spawning is when coral simultaneously release their eggs out into the ocean for purposes of reproduction. Sometimes fertilised and sometimes not, both male spermatozoa and female ova are released during the masse event. The coral increase their chance of reproductive success by spawning at the same time as their counterparts.

The event, known as coral spawning, is a phenomenal event that takes place on the Great Barrier Reef each year, as well as other reefs worldwide. Based on ideal conditions that revolve around moon cycles and water temperatures, the coral will all release their eggs on the same night each year to coincide with the corals around it. 

This event takes place a week after a full moon has passed. How the coral are able to detect and time the lunar phases is unknown. The water temperatures is generally around 27°C, which too helps the gametes reach maturation. The event takes place between October and December each year and when water temperatures are just right and ocean conditions are ideal.

The en masse event always happens at night and never during the day. This is so that plankton feeders, which sleep at night, will miss most of the action. The spawning provides a feeding frenzy on the reef as it is, but at least this gives the coral larvae a higher chance of survival. If you are lucky enough to be under the water when the spawning is happening, you will be able to see the abundance of coral larvae very easily with the naked eye. With millions upon millions of gametes floating around, it will feel a lot like being surrounded by all the stars in the sky. The gametes goal is to then find a coral of their species and become a polyp on that coral, making its forever home and becoming a permanent resident of the reef.  

Coral spawning events attract tourists from all over who wish to come witness the event. It is best seen while scuba diving at night, but snorkellers and above-water observers can also see the coral spawning from above when the larvae form streams on the surface of the ocean after they are released. The Great Barrier Reef covers a large area, meaning coral spawning may occur at different times on the reef, depending on local conditions. Ask us the best way that you can witness a coral spawning events.

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