Monday, January 17

Great Barrier Reef Explodes with Color

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef exploded in color recently during a massive spawn, a major sign of life in one of the world’s natural wonders.

The spawn, when corals fertilize billions of offspring by casting sperm and eggs into the Pacific, took place along the length of the 1,429-mile-long reef, an area protected by UNESCO. Marine scientists dove under water to the reef off the coast of Cairns, Queensland, to study the annual spawn. They said the colors this year were proof that the coral can regenerate itself despite earlier, life-threatening, ecological threats.

The Great Barrier Reef, a network of 2,500 reefs covering 134,000 square miles, is recovering from coral bleaching caused by warmer ocean temperatures. The bleaching occurred in 2016, 2017 and again in 2020, and damaged two-thirds of the reef’s coral.

“It’s gratifying to see the reef give birth,” said Gareth Phillips, a marine biologist and the head of Reef Teach. “It’s a strong demonstration that its ecological functions are intact and working after being in a recovery phase for more than 18 months.

“The reef has gone through its own troubles, like we all have. But it can respond – and that gives us hope.”

The annual spawn usually occurs at some time from October through November, depending on ocean currents and temperatures, and it lasts two or three days. Coral bundles of sperm and eggs need to find bundles from the same coral species to reproduce, so releasing billions of bundles at the same time increases the chances that the right coupling will occur. Read more and see the video below:




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