Explosion spawns bright spots in coral reef

An underwater explosion in the Great Barrier Reef launched critters to new life on Friday, as scientists observing the world’s largest living structure witnessed swirling sediment particles pushing some, not all, coral larvae to…

Explosion spawns bright spots in coral reef

An underwater explosion in the Great Barrier Reef launched critters to new life on Friday, as scientists observing the world’s largest living structure witnessed swirling sediment particles pushing some, not all, coral larvae to development.

Scientists were observing some of the thousands of eggs that may be laid in the reef after an annual spawning event called “ceremonial spawning.” These are material transfers between various coral reef colonies, according to Wildlife First Reef Team scientist Sharon Petty. “Ceremonial spawning occurs when the creatures go and take out the eggs,” Petty told the Washington Post.

More than half of the world’s coral, stretching 3,700 miles along the Australian coast, faces extinction, according to a report released by the United Nations Environment Program in March. The report indicates that the sheer size of the dying reef would likely pose a significant threat to ecosystems and species. Pette said the species that would be affected most are those that are “very young,” or many years from reaching maturity. “Basically, the risk is that they won’t be able to provide the ability to take the newly hatched larvae through to adult,” she said.

Petty recalled Friday’s activity, which took place on a section of the reef known as the Lower Scrub, as “magical.”

“A lot of times it’s like you feel like you’re seeing angels, like they’re all present there. And there’s not as much uniformity,” she said. “You’re not always seeing these perfect colonies, and that’s important for understanding how to go about actually breeding the larvae.”

Leave a Comment