BBC Radio 4, Palau
The coralreefs in the tropical western Pacific are about to embark on one of the mostspectacular and significant nights in their annual life cycle – a mass coralspawning.
By the lightof April’s full moon on Sunday or, soon after, coralswill be mating mass market style. Andrew Luck-Baker from the BBC reportsthat he has gone to the island archipelago that makes up the Republic of Palau, to join a team of marine biologists fromAustralia, Britain and the Philippines. This team plans to take advantage ofthis wonder of nature in the cause of coral reef restoration, where millions ofcoral colonies will simultaneously release billions of eggs and sperm into thedark waters.
Normallyoccurring after sunset, each spawning coral will discharge showers of sexcells, packaged in orange and pink balls. They rise to the surface insuch huge numbers that they may form oily slicks kilometres long, to thedelight of many of marine animals who feed off such spawnings. When the cells reach the water’s surface,they burst open and release eggs and sperm which conglomerate and fertilise. Coral larvae actually swim about as theydevelop and those that survive hungry predator will sink to the sea floor andcommence their growth.
The team ofmarine biologists are going to investigate the potential of an experimentaltechnique known as coral seeding, by collecting some of the spawn from massmating events and using it to promote the growth of new corals on reefs in needof rescue.
For anupdate on the findings and research to be carried out on this trip please clickthis link.