Spring Break in the Pacific

Palau reef: where the party gets started
Palau reef: where the party gets startedCourtesy zolas box
Over the next few days, the Palau reef in the West Pacific will experience a frenzy of activities as the reefs' coral denizens partake in their annual mating ritual. Although there won't be any of the usual Spring Break antics such as wet t-shirt or bikini contests, excessive drinking, or stupid male shenanigans, one thing there will be is lots and lots of rampant reproduction.

Just after sunset tonight, or perhaps tomorrow or maybe even the next night, billions upon billions of the coral colonies' eggs and sperm will be unleashed in cute little orange and pink packages that will rise to the surface where they'll lose their inhibitions, burst open, dance and intermingle under the moonlight, and develop into billions of coral larvae. If conditions are right the sheer number of the event's participants can sometimes form huge slicks on the surface that can be seen from space. In the end most of the spawn or larvae gets eaten before it develops fully, but since there's so many of them in the first place, it doesn't really matter.

Anyway, a few days later, any surviving coral larvae will float exhausted to the sea bottom in hopes of attaching themselves to some good solid structure where they develop into baby coral polyps, thus adding more coral to the reef, and living happily ever after. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

The 300 island archipelago making up the republic of Palau is located 155 miles above the equator about 550 miles east of the Philippines. The reefs in the vicinity are in good condition ecologically, but the annual spawning has attracted scientists from Great Britain, Australia, and the Philippines, who are in Palau to gather "seeding" material for other less fortunate coral reefs.

The research team won't be using spawning material from the open reefs but instead will harvest it from pieces of coral they've collected and keep in a controlled laboratory environment at the Palau International Coral Reef Center. The larvae from the experiment are then transplanted into a suitable environment conducive to reef-building.

With many of the world's coral reef environments suffering from the effects of pollution, over-fishing, and other factors, the researchers hope seeding damaged reefs with the harvested spawn from healthier ones will help restore the fragile ecosystems.

BBC website

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

mdr's picture
mdr says:

The corals of Palau reef came through with their annual mating ritual last night, turning the seas pink. Go here for a photo and video.

posted on Mon, 04/21/2008 - 10:59am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

that is like so awsome!

posted on Mon, 04/21/2008 - 11:06am
hawa's picture
hawa says:

I know that's really cool

posted on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 9:03am
hmoob_muas's picture
hmoob_muas says:

this is awesome, i never knew coral reef mates.....

posted on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 8:32am
zephyr's picture
zephyr says:

ya it is sweet.... i now know how coral reefs make babies.....

posted on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 8:35am
andyshadexx's picture
andyshadexx says:

oh wow that would be something that i have never heard of before.

posted on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 8:48am
tiffany_88's picture
tiffany_88 says:

I love it reef's coral because the vegetation in the ocean its awesome and can be experimented is great.

posted on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 8:50am
Andy Korman's picture
Andy Korman says:

i love the coral reefs and that would be something to see! i need an underwater camera.

posted on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 8:54am
bert123's picture
bert123 says:

thats cool i didnt know they could have little babies.
IBI Call it what you want IBI

posted on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 8:54am
diamond2008's picture
diamond2008 says:

good for them its a good thing there spring break is fun for them

posted on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 8:58am
Looney_Tooney's picture
Looney_Tooney says:

This is awesome, like Forreals....
Wish I get to go one day....
Maybe next year....

U Kno Wat Im Sayin!!!

posted on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 9:01am
bryan kennedy's picture

This made me think about how other species reproduce. I'd never thought about how coral reproduce and I sure wouldn't have guessed at this. Are there any other creatures in the world that make YOU wonder, "How do they reproduce?"

posted on Sat, 04/26/2008 - 10:35am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

i think the coolest thing about this phenomenon is that it corresponds to the full moon. It's amazing to me the huge effect the moon has on processes here on earth.

posted on Sat, 04/26/2008 - 10:40am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

thts what i also think its really awesome!!!

posted on Sat, 04/26/2008 - 12:43pm
Candice_318's picture
Candice_318 says:

I think them corals and everything in the sea are so pretty. I wold love to take a trip their and just look at the stuff there cause we aint got water like that in MN... OUR STUFF IS A GREEN OUR YELLOW or got pharmicueticals in it... Such

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posted on Thu, 05/01/2008 - 9:00am

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