It’s the question on everyone’s lips – will Australia’s greatest sex show happen this week, or next month?
Each year the coral spawns in a mass party on the reef, with many colonies and species of coral polyps simultaneously releasing egg and sperm bundles for external fertilisation.
But predicting when this annual phenomenon is going to occur is not an exact science as there are several environmental factors that must all combine to make conditions right for spawning.
Regardless, Cruise Whitsundays is inviting nature enthusiasts or just curious travellers to have an up close and personal experience the event. Sales Manager Tracy Evans said there could be no more intimate experience to view the spawning phenomenon than staying overnight on the reef at ‘Reefsleep’. “Reefsleep is already one of Australia’s most unique accommodation venues, where you sleep in swags under the stars on a permanently moored pontoon in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef,” Ms Evans said.
“But it’s an even more special experience to be right there and witness the coral spawning and all of the unusual marine activity that goes on with it,” she said.
The spectacle resembles an underwater snowstorm, with a flurry of buoyant gametes, usually pink or white, slowly drifting upwards in a real-life version of a shaken snow dome.
It also creates a flurry of activity on the reef with all the fish and other reef animals rarely seen coming out of their normal hidden crevices to feed.
Several conditions need to be just right in order for spawning to occur:
- Firstly, the ocean temperature needs to be 26 degrees celcius or above for the month before for the gametes to mature.
- Secondly, they will generally reproduce 4 to 6 nights after the full moon in November or December when there is little tidal movement.
- Thirdly, it will generally be about 2-3 hours after the sun sets when most of the plankton feeders will be asleep, giving the eggs more time to settle to the relative safety of the reef.
For 2014, Coral Spawning is most likely to occur around 11- 13 November (ie. NOW!) or alternatively between 10-12 December. In 2013 it occurred in November, however this year is as unpredictable as any.
“Our Marine Biologists won’t commit to a date this year – however it is looking more and more likely that it’ll happen next month,” Ms Evans said. “Reefsleep guests get to sleep overnight on the Reefworld pontoon, 50 miles from land but directly over the Great Barrier Reef so if you happen to be there during the spawning you’ll have an up close and personal experience of the spectacular event – as well as having the amazing experience of a night under the stars and on the reef,” she said. “Reefsleep guests can even do a night snorkel or scuba dive to really get involved with the spawning. That’s why we’re inviting people to book in for this amazing experience. We have staff permanently based at the pontoon, affectionately known as ‘Reef Rats’ and they along with our full time Marine Biologist will be on hand during the spawning to explain what’s happening, why and how. We advise booking early as Reefsleep is limited to 12 guests per night and the coral spawning is a popular event. By quoting promo code 100492 when you book, you’ll receive a free guided night time snorkel and be personally hosted at Reefsleep by our Marine Biologist. And since we can’t guarantee that you’ll be there when spawning occurs – if you don’t then we’ll give you a Free Island Hopper pass to explore the Whitsundays with*.”
*Terms and conditions apply. Only new bookings departing for Reefsleep on 11/12/13 November or 10/11/12 December using the promo code are entitled to the free guided snorkel and Island Hopper Pass (unless they are lucky enough to witness the coral spawning!). On sale 10 November – 12 December 2014 for travel 11/12/13 November and 10/11/12 December 2014.