Many people who are not as familiar with the underwater world as SCUBA divers are have a difficult time wrapping their heads around the fact that corals are animals, not undersea plants or rocks. The confusion deepens when they learn that corals are not just a single animal, but rather entire colonies of animals working together for their survival. And for the cherry on top, try explaining how corals reproduce through a majestic event that happens simultaneously just once a year: coral spawning.
This incredible act culminates in coral colonies releasing bundles of eggs and sperm into the water column all at once, allowing fertilization and transportation to a new reef location to happen within a matter of minutes after being expelled. The visual effect is fascinating, as the corals appear to be smoldering underwater. Not every spawn will live to see the formation of a new colony, as marine creatures of all kinds feast on the newly introduced nutrition. But those that escape the bellies of hungry fish will eventually settle on a hard surface, where they will take root and begin to flourish. Watch as this diver works patiently but persistently to capture the ocean’s great event for the rest of us to enjoy.
Image via USFWS Pacific