Annually, on cues from the lunar cycle and the water temperature, complete colonies of coral reefs concurrently launch their tiny eggs and sperm, referred to as gametes, into the ocean. The phenomenon brings to thoughts an underwater blizzard with billions of colourful flakes cascading in white, yellow, pink, and orange.
In ways in which scientists nonetheless don’t totally perceive, mature corals launch their gametes all on the similar time. This synchrony is essential, as a result of the gametes of most coral species are viable for just a few hours. The “blizzard” makes it extra probably that fertilization will happen.
The gametes, stuffed with fatty substances referred to as lipids, rise slowly to the ocean floor, the place the method of fertilization begins.
When a coral egg and sperm be part of collectively as an embryo, they develop right into a coral larva, referred to as a planula. Planulae float within the ocean, some for days and a few for weeks, earlier than dropping to the ocean ground. Then, relying on seafloor circumstances, the planulae could connect to the substrate and develop into a brand new coral colony on the sluggish charge of about .4 inches a yr.