Disgustingly… Awesome – A Look at Coral Spawning

An odd smell permeated our vehicle while driving down the road to one of our field sites…what is that?  We’ve smelled trash, sewage, yard waste, burning cane; but never this.  What could it be?  No idea.

It turns out, that corals around the entire island of Maui were making love.

Rice coral spawning is an amazing event that occurs only twice a year, on a couple of specific days, at a specific time of night.  All the corals in the region wait to exhale at the exact same moment, releasing their loads into the ocean with uncanny temporal precision.
This precision allowed us to run out to the reef at Kapalua, jump in the water at night, and within minutes, observe millions of sperm/egg packets being dumped before our eyes.  The spawn turned the coastal ocean into a soup of gamete balls that floated to the surface, creating a thick odorous slick stretching as far as we could see.

This slick is likely what created the aforementioned smell around the island.   It was the smell of corals gettin’ it on.  We watched in amazement, along with many other animals that came out at night to observe the salacious activity.

Yes, we were one with the coral spawn.  Pretty disgusting….pretty awesome.Get ‘er done my coral friends…and keep building those reefs.

2 Comments on “Disgustingly… Awesome – A Look at Coral Spawning”

  1. Living in the tropics is great – but for 3/4 weeks in October each year the smell of the Coral Spawn being washed up on the beaches is not so sweet. Some days the smell can be really disgusting!!! But we put up with the smell knowing the reef is in a healthy state and nature is taking care of the wonders of the reef…

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