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Great Barrier Reef Coral Spawning


Coral Spawning

coral-spawning - great barrier reef dive


December, brings some amazing aggregations of reef animals together. If you’re into sex on the reef then this is the time! Coral spawning is by now a famous attraction and interest for divers and to experience the coral spawning is a unique diving event. This is not as predictable or reliable a mass event as is generally thought – however at the times predicted for the Reef Encounter trips you will have the best chance to experience the spawning of many of the different reef fish and invertebrates as well as the corals.

This will be a trip with lots of night diving and enjoying the action in the shallows of the reef as many of the animals move here to spawn. coral garden areas and getting to know some of our sites very well for a number of dives to record the events. During coral spawning we also see many marine worms massing to breed and beautiful blue bioluminescent flashes from small reef prawn-like crustaceans spawning near the surface.

As well as possible coral spawning we may see hundreds of large trigger fish massing to build nests, mate and lay and protect their eggs. There are aggregations of thousands of surgeonfish, parrotfish, damsels, wrasse and other species coming together in the reef shallows to spawn. These fish perform amazing dance rituals as they attract the females to then spiral towards the surface and release their eggs and sperm together. The last 20 minutes of a dive is often spent in the shallows amidst huge numbers of spawning fish.
In the late afternoon many of the invertebrate animals get into the act, with starfish and sea cucumbers climbing to high points of the reef and spawning to the surface. Giant clams set off a chain reaction to the other giant clams on the reef in a domino-like clam spawning event. Cuttlefish are also mating and laying eggs at this time which is quite an enthralling behaviour to observe.

One of the highlights of spawning season is the food it creates and the feeding action which results. Drift dives along reef walls, channels and around points aim to find these action sites where large schools of pelagic fish including mackerel and tuna aggregate to feed on the smaller planktiverous fusiliers and ‘bait’ fish. It will certainly be an interesting time diving and searching for the interesting sites of action.