Magic corals spawning off the coast of Cairns, Queensland

Magic corals spawning off the coast of Cairns, Queensland

Coral spawning is one way in which corals reproduce. During most of the year, the jellyfish-like animals reproduce asexually. But, once every year, they send tiny balls containing sperm and eggs up into the water. These balls break apart, the sperm and eggs bump into each other and new coral babies are born.

 This year, billions of babies were born. 

The millions of new coral babies are good news for the reef after a difficult few years. The climate crisis has had a severe impact on the 2,600 kilometers (approximately 1,616 miles) of coral as warmer than usual ocean temperatures encourage coral bleaching, when the coral expel the algae that give them both nutrients and color. The reef suffered back-to-back mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, and again in 2020. A recent study found that the five mass bleaching events since 1998 had left only two percent of the reef unscathed.

The spawning occurred as Australia is emerging from 18 months of border closures due to the new coronavirus. It's a strong demonstration that the reef's 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 still respond, and that gives us hope. We must all focus on the victories as we emerge from the pandemic. (source: ecowatch.com)

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