A brain coral off the coast of Cambodia releases bundles of sperm and eggs during a rare spawning event. Photo Credit: Matt Glue/Fauna & Flora, Video Credit: Sorn Srenh/Koh Sdach Commune

AnimalsEnvironment Cambodia13. April 2024

Colourful Corals Reproducing: a Rare, Breathtaking Sight

A team of marine biologists was lucky enough to witness the massive yearly spawning of corals in the Gulf of Thailand, proof that the aquatic species isn’t as threatened by climate change off the coast of Cambodia as it could be in other tropical waters.

“The coral is thriving,” states Matt Glue, a marine technical specialist at Fauna & Flora International, the environmental group leading the expedition. “Everywhere we would go we would see more colonies that were spawning. It’s very hopeful.”

Many corals reproduce only once a year – for a few minutes at night – by spawning or releasing hundreds of little pink, red, orange, or yellow pearl-sized balls containing eggs and sperm from an individual coral colony. Coral reefs in the East Asian region seem more resilient to warming as their number hasn’t declined in recent decades. Genetic diversity is their secret to survival, with varieties that are slightly more or less tolerant to various stresses, including high temperatures, as some coral colonies have a tolerance to heat baked in their DNA. According to a 2020 report, within East Asia, “high coral cover and diversity on the coral reefs within this critically important region may have conferred a degree of natural resistance to elevated [sea surface temperatures].”


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