Wildlife

Great Barrier Reef annual mass coral spawning begins

A mass coral spawning has begun on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, with early indications the annual event could be among the biggest in recent years.

Buffeted by climate change-induced rising sea temperatures and coral bleaching, the world’s largest reef system goes into a frenzy once a year with a mass release of coral eggs and sperm that is synchronised to increase the chances of fertilisation.

The natural wonder, which has been likened to underwater fireworks or a snowstorm, occurs just once a year in specific conditions: after a full moon when water temperatures hover around 27℃ to 28℃. Soft corals are the first to release, followed by hard corals, in a process that typically spans between 48 and 72 hours.

Coral along large swathes of the 2300km reef have been killed by rising sea temperatures linked to climate change, leaving behind skeletal remains in a process known as coral bleaching.

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