The Washington Post

Great Barrier Reef in Australia hosts spawning of coral

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is spawning an explosion of color as the World Heritage-listed natural wonder recovers from life-threatenin­g coral bleaching episodes.

Scientists on Tuesday night recorded the corals fertilizin­g billions of offspring by casting sperm and eggs into the Pacific Ocean off the Queensland state coastal city of Cairns.

The network of 2,500 reefs covering 134,000 square miles suffered significan­tly from coral bleaching caused by unusually warm ocean temperatur­es in 2016, 2017 and last year. The bleaching damaged two-thirds of the coral.

Gareth Phillips, a marine scientist with Reef Teach, a tourism and educationa­l business, is studying the spawning as part of a project to monitor the reef ’s health.

“It is gratifying to see the reef give birth,” Phillips said in a statement on Wednesday. “It’s a strong demonstrat­ion that its ecological functions are intact and working after being in a recovery phase for more than 18 months.”

 ?? GABRIEL GUZMAN ?? Corals are fertilizin­g billions of offspring this year, despite previous years of coral bleaching there.
GABRIEL GUZMAN Corals are fertilizin­g billions of offspring this year, despite previous years of coral bleaching there.

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