Gabriel Guzman / AP
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef spawns in an explosion of color as the World Heritage-listed natural wonder recovers from life-threatening coral bleaching episodes.
Scientists on Tuesday night recorded the corals fertilizing billions of offspring by dumping sperm and eggs into the Pacific Ocean off the Queensland state coastal city of Cairns.
The spawning event lasts two or three days.
The 2,500 reef system covering 348,000 square kilometers (134,000 square miles) suffered significantly from coral bleaching caused by unusually warm ocean temperatures in 2016, 2017 and last year. The bleaching damaged two-thirds of the coral.
Gareth Phillips, a marine scientist with Reef Teach, a tourism and education company, is studying spawning as part of a reef health monitoring project.
“It’s gratifying to see the reef give birth,” Phillips said in a statement Wednesday. “This is a strong demonstration that its ecological functions are intact and working after being in a recovery phase for over 18 months.”
“The Reef has been through its own issues like all of us, but it can still respond – and that gives us hope. I think we all need to focus on the victories coming out of the pandemic,” added Phillips.