One week after the early September full moon, the corals conducted their annual ritual of spawning and the rare sight was witnessed by divers with Ocean Frontiers Ltd. in East End.
Lucky viewers of the sight were divers participating in special night dives organised by Ocean Frontiers.
The 2006 event was especially significant in demonstrating that the corals are in good health after Hurricane Ivan, says a press release from Ocean Frontiers, which also notes that a new species, Massive Starlet Coral, has been documented for the first time in the Cayman Islands.
‘Mass coral spawning is one of the ocean’s most illusive sights; the majority of corals only spawn once a year, at night, and the whole show is completed in less than 15 minutes,’ said a press release from Ocean Frontiers.
‘Even marine biologists only learned how it happened during the 1980s. It may be rare, but the spectacle is astonishing. A coral spends most of the year doing a good impersonation of a rock but on this one night the whole reef explodes into effervescent life.’
Seeing it remains a gamble, but over the last four years Ocean Frontiers, under the guidance of Dr. Alex Mustard, have successfully observed and documented this unique event.
Hard corals that divers have witnessed spawning in the Cayman Islands include: Staghorn Coral, Elkhorn Coral, Great Star Coral, Lobed Star Coral, Boulder Star Coral, Massive Starlet Coral and Symmetrical Brain Coral.
In addition, soft corals such as Porous Sea Rods and Black Sea Rods have also had their spawning documented.
Dr. Alexander Mustard hosts group trips to Grand Cayman each September to see the coral spawning. Contact Ocean Frontiers for more details at www.oceanfrontiers.com.