Witnessing an underwater snow storm

Witnessing an underwater snow storm

Tonight my wife and I went diving with hopes of witnessing a rare event, the annual coral spawning.  Last year we saw it, but it was a total fluke.  This year we worked hard to time our dive with the spawning.  You see, coral spawning occurs once per year, over the course of several nights, for about half an hour.  Then it’s over for another year.  If you dive on the wrong day and/or time, you’ll miss it.  Last night we dove from 8:30p until 9:30p and didn’t see anything (friends of ours dove at 10:30p and saw it, others witnessed it earlier at 7:30p, just luck of the draw).  Tonight we dove at 9:30p and most of the dive was uneventful…until about 10:20p. We figured we had missed it again and began ascending to complete our safety stop when my wife started going nuts.  I could literally hear her yelling through her regulator.  I was a little ahead of her but knew what must’ve been happening behind me.  I turned, just in time to see the eggs and sperm being expelled into the water like dandelions being blown around in the wind.

To see coral spawning in it’s full glory, check out this great video from friends of ours, Chase Darnell and Dusty Norman.

Coral makes up less than 1% of the seas and oceans yet supports 25% of all marine life.  It is in fact a living breathing organism.  It’s an invertebrate carnivore (on night dives we attract blood worms with our lights and watch the coral feed on them) that can live from just a few years to centuries.  It takes a bit for coral reefs to develop, much of the coral today began developing millions of years ago, talk about a late bloomer!  Due to global climate change, it’s also an endangered species, but there’s more.  Coral reefs are a lattice work that supports diverse species of marine life.  With rising global temperatures and increased ocean acidity, the ability for coral to survive is in question.  If coral reefs die, the species they support are doomed too; and although they make up a tiny percentage of our rock, their importance cannot be overstated.  As we’re quickly learning, living things are interdependent, and the destruction of one could have devastating consequences for the eco-system we call Earth.

If you liked the video (how could you not?), check out more of Chase Darnell’s work at www.chasedarnellphotography.com

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