Spawn­ing spec­ta­cle

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Rod Kil­ner

GI­ANT Ja­panese broad­caster NHK is send­ing a seven-strong tele­vi­sion crew to un­cover the won­ders of the Great Bar­rier Reef, and es­pe­cially the an­nual spec­ta­cle of coral spawn­ing.

NHK is Ja­pan’s only pub­lic broad­caster, and is one of the largest in the world.

Eye to Eye Ma­rine En­coun­ters’ John Rum­ney will be tak­ing the crew out on his boat the Un­der­wa­ter Ex­plorer for more than a month to film a doc­u­men­tary on the spawn­ing and night life on the reef.

‘‘We’ll be at sea for around 40 days to cap­ture the amaz­ing im­ages, and to dis­cover the crea­tures of the night as they’ve never been cap­tured be­fore,’’ Mr Rum­ney said.

The Great Bar­rier Ma­rine Reef Au­thor­ity ex­plains the coral spawn­ing in­volves colonies and species of coral polyps si­mul­ta­ne­ously re­leas­ing tiny egg and sperm bun­dles from their gut cav­ity into the wa­ter.

By ex­pelling the eggs and sperm at the same time, the coral in­creases the like­li­hood that fer­til­i­sa­tion will take place.

Best es­ti­mates sug­gest this year’s spawn­ing will take place be­tween Novem­ber 22 and 24.

A num­ber of fac­tors will de­ter­mine when what is var­i­ously de­scribed as ‘‘sex on the reef’’ or ‘‘the reef orgy’’ will hap­pen, usu­ally sev­eral days af­ter the full moon, when the wa­ter tem­per­a­ture is above 26 de­grees.

Quick­sil­ver biosearch man­ager Rus­sell Hore said ev­ery­thing is align­ing per­fectly for this year’s spawn­ing.

‘‘The tides are cor­rect, mean­ing there will be very lit­tle wa­ter flow and a mild win­ter means the per­fect con­di­tions for the de­vel­op­ment of the egg and sperm bun­dles,’’ Mr Hore said. ‘‘Some­times it can be a bit hit and miss to find, and it’s best to look for a nice patch with a wide va­ri­ety of coral, and a stong pres­ence of the staghorn coral.

‘‘Look for pinky, orange bun­dles on the coral.’’

The spawn­ing will oc­cur an hour or so af­ter sun­set, around 8pm to 8.30pm.

He also rec­om­mended look­ing out for other sea crea­tures such as sea cu­cum­bers, feather stars and gi­ant claims dur­ing the spawn­ing.

To wit­ness this nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non con­tact lo­cal reef tour op­er­a­tors.


SPAWN­ING: Coral ‘sex on the reef’

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