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’