Coral Spawning Time in St. Lucia


Caribbean News Now reports on one of nature’s most spectacular performances—coral spawning—focusing on the beaches of Anse Chastanet, Saint Lucia, where each August, the resort’s scuba diving team accurately predicts the night spawning and prepares to take divers to observe the remarkable phenomenon. At the resort, snorkelers can also participate in guided night snorkeling adventures and take underwater cameras to capture the beauty of this special occurrence. This year the event takes place August 16-18, 2014. 

What is coral spawning? Each year, coral release millions of packets of egg and sperm cells that appear underwater as massive pink and white clouds. They slowly drift to the surface where fertilization occurs. The next day the sea will be partially covered by pink slicks of coral larvae which represents the next generation of one of the ocean’s most vital organisms. Within a few weeks the larvae will settle on the bottom and begin the process of reef building. Of course, this reproductive process takes on added significance at this time as the world’s coral reefs are being decimated by the effects of global warming and other environmental factors.

While much of the coral spawning process remains a mystery to science, it is known that somehow each species of coral on a reef synchronizes the timing of its spawning, which takes place only once each year. The key controlling factors seem to be the water temperature, the lunar cycle, length of daylight hours and the tides. The development of the eggs and sperms are triggered by rising water temperatures during the summer leading to the spawning in late summer or early fall. The ideal time for the release of the reproductive cells seems to be a week or so after a full moon when tides and currents are diminishing which provides more hospitable conditions for the fertilization process. The process begins an hour or two after sunset providing the cover of darkness as well. [. . .]

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