Coral spawning happening on reef

SOMETHING pretty special has been happening out at the Great Barrier Reef this week.

The coral has begun its spawning process.

Coral spawning is a once-a-year mass reproduction process which happens shortly after the full moon in November.

Local marine biologists have said that although it is often hard to pin point exactly when spawning takes place, they believe it happened on Saturday and Sunday.

Fantasea Adventure Cruising marine biologist Emily Smart said the coral relies on a number of factors to trigger the process.

She said the amount of moonlight and the temperature of the water were the most important things.

“It is a very good sign to see it happening,” she said.

“It is the only way that most corals reproduce genetically.”

When everything is right, the corals simultaneously release sperm and eggs into the water en masse over a few nights which look like small specks floating in the water.

This floats up to the surface and is often taken by other sea creatures for an easy meal, but when an egg is fertilised by the sperm it develops into what is called a planula larva. This can float around for days and can travel for hundreds of kilometres and may eventually settle on a reef far from where it was spawned.

After it settles, the coral polyp starts to bud and the coral colony begins to develop and grow.

This important process is one way the reef rejuvenates.

Generally less than one per cent of eggs released will survive to spawn them.

Ms Smart said although this may seem like an inefficient method of over saturation of eggs, it is a guarantee that at least some of the eggs will survive.

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