One of the most spectacular but little known events along the Florida reefs — as well as around the world — is the annual synchronized spawning of corals.
Yes, corals do have sex to reproduce and to observers it looks like a brilliant underwater fireworks display.
In the middle of the night several days after the Aug. 29 full moon, Capt. Slate’s Scuba Adventures Dive Center in Tavernier, Fla., will provide divers with a front reef seat to watch this mass reproduction. Coral Spawning dives are currently being booked for September 3-4.
The mass reproduction involves colonies and species of coral polyps simultaneously releasing millions of tiny egg and sperm bundles from their gut cavity into the water.
Many are immediately consumed by marauding schools of shiny silver pilchards-- hence the fireworks effect. And the swarming pilchards attract larger predators such as barracuda and tarpon to the fray. The lucky coral gametes that manage to survive the fish fest fertilize one another to create larvae, which eventually settle to the bottom to form new coral reefs.
According to NOAA, most scientists agree that these mass spawning events are designed to allow genetic mixing and dispersal of offspring over large distances.
For more information on the Coral Spawning Dive Adventure, please go to http://www.guyharveyoutpost.com/specials/