Australia’s Great Barrier Reef spawns in explosion of colors: NPR

Corals fertilize billions of offspring by throwing sperm and eggs into the Pacific Ocean off Queensland State’s coastal city of Cairns, Australia, on Tuesday, November 23, 2021.

Gabriel Guzman / AP


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Gabriel Guzman / AP


Corals fertilize billions of offspring by throwing sperm and eggs into the Pacific Ocean off Queensland State’s coastal city of Cairns, Australia, on Tuesday, November 23, 2021.

Gabriel Guzman / AP

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is spawning in an explosion of colors, while the World Heritage-listed natural wonder recovers from life-threatening coral bleaching episodes.

Researchers on Tuesday night recorded corals fertilizing billions of offspring by throwing sperm and eggs into the Pacific Ocean off the coastal city of Cairns in Queensland.

The spawning event lasts for two or three days.

The network of 2,500 reefs 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 corals.

Gareth Phillips, a marine scientist at Reef Teach, a tourism and education company, is studying spawning as part of a project to monitor reef health.

“It’s gratifying to see torn food,” Phillips said in a statement Wednesday. “It is a strong demonstration that its ecological functions are intact and functioning after being in a recovery phase for more than 18 months.”

“The reef has gone through its own problems that we all have, but it can still respond – and it gives us hope. I think we should all focus on the victories when we come out of the pandemic,” Phillips added.

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