The corals of Queensland's reefs provide divers and snorkellers with a display of colour, shape and movement that is replicated nowhere else in the world.
Exotic coral structures shaped like staghorns, tabletops, fans and brains create a habitat for a myriad of fishes, enchinoderms, molluscs and microoganisms such as algae and plankton.
Coral spawning or reproduction is a visual spectacular colloquially know as "sex on the reef". Spawning sees egg-engorged corals across the reefs simultaneously release masses of pretty pink eggs and sperm into dark inky evening seas over several nights following the full moon in October or November. It usually occurs with the lunar month and dates vary, usually 3 - 4 days after the full moon. Special liveaboard dive trips are available to certified divers who are competent night divers and whose schedule allows them to wait for the event.
On the Great Barrier Reef, many coral species reproduce once each year in the annual mass spawning that takes place in spring or early summer. In this event, many corals release eggs and sperm into the water on a few nights of each year, linked to the phases of the moon.
The most common timing is in late spring/early summer (October/November).
When: October/November 3-5 days after the full-moon
Where: Great Barrier Reef
The plants of the marine park can be as small as microscopic algae and seaweeds (500 species) or as large as forests of soft corals and seagrass meadows that are feeding grounds to vulnerable dugongs and endangered turtles. The reef is home to a quarter of all known sea-grass species.
While less is known about these habitats, their contribution to the preservation and biodiversity of the reef is without question.