Earlier this month Ocean Rafting teamed up with the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Reef Catchments, other high-standard tourism operators and Traditional Owners, to participate in the Boats 4 Corals reef assist project, in preparation for the 2023 coral spawning event.
The trip involved surveying coral reefs in the area to check for coral recruits from last year’s spawning event, as well as gravid colony checks which involve examining particular coral species for eggs to see if they are ready to spawn at the end of the year.
The Boats 4 Corals reef assist project focuses on the collection and relocation of coral larvae to re-seed damaged reefs in the Whitsundays area. Coral spawn is collected, incubated in floating larval pools for 5-7 days, and then deployed onto target reefs that have suffered from damage, such as cyclones, in the past.
This year it is looking like we might have a split spawning season, which means we could see the reef spawn in November and again in December. Coral spawning is the sexiest time of the year on the Great Barrier Reef, and a natural phenomenon that typically occurs once a year when coral polyps release sperm and eggs simultaneously. The mass spawning event relies on the lunar cycle and water temperature in order to spawn for several hours after sunset. It truly is a spectacular event, and resembles the inside of a snow globe.
Studies indicate that undertaking coral restoration projects such as the Boats 4 Corals initiative, can improve the chance of coral spawn surviving to adulthood from approx. 1 in 1 million, to 1 in 10,000.