Coral Spawning

coral spawning

Every year divers and snorkelers point their torches into the darkened waters of the Great Barrier Reef, in the hopes of witnessing the annual ‘mass’ coral spawning event. Coral spawning is where the many colonies of coral species simultaneously release egg and sperm bundles for external fertilisation.

The spectacle resembles an underwater snowstorm, with a flurry of buoyant gametes, usually pink or white, slowly drifting upwards in a real-life version of a shaken snow dome.

While there are a few indicators for the initiation of these synchronised spawning events, predicting it is a tricky game…. You have to be in the right spot at the right time! What is known is that the phenomenon only happens at night, after rising water temperatures have stimulated the maturation of gametes (the egg and sperm) within the polyps. And they usually occur over several days to just over a week after a full moon. It is thought that corals may be able to sense using primitive photoreceptors, although the time of year depends on location. This year this it is predicted to happen on the Great Barrier Reef in late spring or very early Summer between the 22nd and 24th November 2013.

Only a few thousand people have ever witnessed it since it was first discovered to happen 30 years ago, it is a once in a lifetime must for a diver.

There are a couple of options we recommend for Coral Spawning:

  1. Pro Dive 3 day 2 night liveaboard dive and snorkel trip leaving from Cairns http://www.prodivecairns.com.au/spawning.html
  2. Silverswift night dive leaving from Cairns http://www.silverseries.com.au/night_dive.htm

by Port Douglas Tourist Information Centre

The Port Douglas Tourist Information Centre has been operating since 1987. We are locals and are passionate about our wonderful World Heritage listed region and tropical lifestyle.