'Sex-on-the-reef' along Lakshadweep islands
New Delhi: A rare and curious phenomenon, coral spawning, popularly referred to as "sex-on-the-reef", has been recorded scientifically for the first time along Lakshadweep islands on India's west coast, a Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) researcher has claimed.
Generally observed after full-moon nights, coral spawning is a magnificent phenomenon of sexual reproduction of corals, which involves mass collective expulsion of colourful eggs and sperm clouds into the water by corals.
Normally taking place once a year, the gametes then rise to the surface of the ocean creating a colourful slick.
The slick was first observed by Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) marine biologist Subburaman S last week, and also by the Central Marine Fisheries and Research Institute (CMFRI) team.
"I was travelling by boat, when I noticed an interesting effect in the water. Out of curiosity, I collected some pink and brown spawn for examination," Subburaman was quoted as saying by a WTI release here.
Subburaman with the support of CMFRI scientists Dr Jasmine and R Srinath examined the samples and confirmed that they were indeed coral spawn.
Environment wardens Abdul Raheem and Dr Sayeed Ali said that this finding proves that Lakshadweep's corals are recovering from the stress they experienced after El Nino, 2010.
Chief Wildlife Warden, Lakshadweep, Thirunavukarasu, added that it's great news that the Lakshadweep coral reef is in a healthy state.
During spawning, the eggs are fertilised and form larvae. The larvae then float off till they find suitable substrates, settle and form their own colonies, helping corals thrive.
Coral spawning is a big tourist attraction in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, where it generally happens soon after the full moon in November or December. Spawning normally happens when the water is warm, and when the tide is changing from high to low.
In the Maldives, spawning has been scientifically determined to take place between the end of January and the beginning of March.
One thing is universal though, exact date of spawning is still largely unpredictable.
It was first recorded in 1981, says WTI.