SYDNEY (AFP) – Mass spawning began on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, with early indications that the annual event may be among the largest in recent years, local marine biologists said on Sunday (November 17th).
Buffeted by climate-induced rising sea temperatures and coral bleaching, the largest reef system in the world goes crazy once a year with the massive release of coral eggs and sperm that synchronize to increase the chances of fertilization.
Marine biologist Pablo Cogolos, of Cairns-based tour operator Sunlover Reef Cruises, said the first night of spawning in 2019 was remarkably "fruitful" as a positive sign of the ecosystem under threat.
"There were three times the volume of eggs and sperm. compared to last year, when soft corals were born four nights after the full moon and was considered the best spawn in five years, "he said.
The natural miracle, resembling underwater fireworks or snowst orm, is occurs only once a year under specific conditions: after a full moon, when the water temperature moves about 27 to 28 degrees C.
Soft corals are released first, followed by hard corals, in a process that typically extends between 48 and 72 hours
Corals over large stretches of 2 300 km of reef but were killed by rising sea temperatures associated with climate change, leaving behind skeletal remains in a process known as coral bleaching.
Suffered from the northern reef for an unprecedented two consecutive years of severe bleaching in 201
Scientists last year launched a project to harvest coral eggs and sperm during spawning, which they plan to grow coral larvae for and use forregeneration of severely damaged reef sections.