Coral Spawning on the Great Barrier Reef

Morris EscapesTeam 3·31 Oct, 2023

Did you know Christmas arrives early on the Great Barrier Reef? It really does. While the rest of the world is counting down to Santa’s arrival, at Orpheus Island we’re waiting for coral spawning – it’s the best gift there is. 

Coral spawning 101.

What is it? In a few words, the phenomenon is the mass fertilisation of new coral. Each year, sometime during November through to December, millions of coral eggs and sperm bundles are released into the waters around the island and reef. The act is called spawning, which kicks off at night-time, under the light of the full moon. If it sounds mysterious, it is. Dictated by the moon and warm water temperatures, predicting the event is not an exact science, but observing it is a once in a lifetime experience.

Why does it happen?

The biggest reproduction show on the planet is really a numbers game. By mass spawning, the coral has more chance of fertilisation occurring. Climate change has caused damage to almost half of the Great Barrier Reef’s corals over the last few years, so it’s a very good thing the coral tries to change the odds. Many different species will spawn around the same time, often in waves, so spawning might last a few days to a week.

How can we help?

Reef restoration is serious business. During coral spawning, the Orpheus Island Research Center, local tourism operators, and even recreational boaters help out, including conducting ‘coral IVF’ – capturing unused coral eggs and sperm in special floating pools, and once they’ve done some growing, relocating them to damaged reefs.

Millions of coral eggs and sperm bundles are released into the waters around the island

Where can you witness coral spawning?

The inner reef spawning takes place in October, but if you want to see the outer reef spawning and are lucky enough to have timed your visit, book a charter today.

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