October 1, 2008
Full Moon Triggered Coral Spawning on Florida Keys Reefs
Underwater voyeurs vied for spots to dive reefs in the Florida Keys for the annual coral spawning, sparked by the August full moon. "It's pretty amazing to see how it works," said Dan Dawson, owner of Horizon Divers (Key Largo, Florida). "My wife sat there in the sand for an hour and all of a sudden saw the coral secretion and then saw it floating away."
While corals use multiple reproductive strategies, nearly all large reefbuilding species release millions of gametes once a year in synchronized mass-spawning rituals. These spectacular displays allow the stationary animals to mix genetically and disperse offspring over great distances.
Scientists' observations indicate a strong connection between the coral spawn and seasonal lunar cycles.
This year, the full moon fell on August 16.
Copyright Compass Publications, Inc. Sep 2008
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