Rare footage captures coral spawning six months early

 

AN underwater photographer has captured rare footage of coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef, six months earlier than expected - and at daytime. WATCH THE VIDEO

Cairns based photographer Lorenzo Ballarin was swimming towards a massive 20m long colony of Pavona coral at Challenger Bay, in the Ribbon Reefs, southeast of Lizard Island in late-April, when the water visibility started worsening.

"There were thick clouds of white matter in the water column," he said.

"Getting closer, I was able to realise that the murky white substance was actually coming from the coral itself, making me think straight away about an early spawning."

Coral spawning at Challenger Bay, in the Ribbon Reefs, southeast of Lizard Island. PHOTO: Lorenzo Ballarin
Coral spawning at Challenger Bay, in the Ribbon Reefs, southeast of Lizard Island. PHOTO: Lorenzo Ballarin

 

Coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef usually occurs at night-time in late November/December after the full moon, when many coral species release their eggs and sperm into the water, simultaneously.

Mr Ballarin who has experienced mass coral spawnings in November and December several times, said he was very surprised the large colony appeared to have spawned six months early.

"The Great Barrier Reef is a magical place, thriving with life and always full of surprises like this," he said.

"Of course our beautiful Reef has seen better days, but it is definitely showing great signs of recovery in the areas affected by coral bleaching and weather damage in the past few years."

The encounter was recently reported to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, via its Eye on the Reef program.

GBRMPA's chief scientists, Dr David Wachenfeld, said the early coral spawning was very unusual for the Reef.

The authority received reports of rare daytime coral spawning at Norman and Saxon reefs, of Cairns in November last year.

"What many people don't realise is that we sometimes get some corals spawning at other times of the year - never mass spawning, and never as many, and never quite as spectacular," Dr Wachenfeld said.

"We do occasionally get reports, but it's a very unusual sight, and just one more of the amazing things you can see on the Great Barrier Reef."

To report interesting or unusual marine encounters on the Great Barrier Reef, contact GBRMPA via www.gbrmpa.gov.au, or using the Eye on the Reef app.



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