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Mass Coral Spawn in Western Australia on March 27, '11 (plus video)

By Leonard Ho - Posted Mar 25, 2011 01:00 PM
Starting March 27 and lasting four days, the annual mass coral spawn is anticipated in the Dampier Archipelago, Ningaloo Marine Park and Abrolhos Islands.
Mass Coral Spawn in Western Australia on March 27, '11 (plus video)

An incredible surface slick of coral gametes! Image credit: Australia's Department of Environment and Conservation

Every year, a spectacular natural event occurs off the western coast of Australia.  For four days, corals begin broadcast spawning en masse.  This spawning event coincides with the lowest tide, seven to ten nights after a full moon.

So many gametes are released during these four days that it colors large swathes of coastal water a bright red (similar to "red tide" dinoflagellate blooms, which this spawning event has often been confused for).

The coral spawn, however, is not without potential risk to reef health ... this year in particular.  2010-2011 has been a La Nina season, meaning warmer waters off Western Australia as well as calmer seas.  The risk is the spawning event could reduce oxygen levels and threaten corals, fish, and the reef as a whole.  This is due to the higher temperature (water has less capacity to hold oxygen) and calm ocean current (unable to "flush" and distribute the gametes)

Still, spawning events are spectacular sights to behold and will attract thousands of visitors to Western Australia.  And thousands (if not millions) of coral "babies" is good news for reef lovers everywhere.




Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.


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