Even after settling my sleep debt, I’m left reeling from the past weekend, where I not only witnessed my first Great Barrier Reef mass spawning event (a sight to behold to be sure!) but the incredible validation of 5 years of hard work by the Reef Restoration Foundation team, some of the brightest and most dedicated minds I am lucky enough to call my colleagues.
The excitement in the water was palpable as the sun slipped below the horizon and torch beams skittered over the patchwork rainbow of the reef rising up to meet us as we descended through the inky portal of the sea. Far from the silence many folk expect below the waves, the reef was a heaving symphony of life after dark.
Chirps, crackles and crunches echo through the ocean where minute fish fly past like shooting stars and skinny worms wriggle to a secret rhythm. Box crabs boot-scoot between the corals and the brittle stars do some weird kind of macarena mating ritual.
Suddenly, the orchestra is silenced and only one thing remains in your consciousness, the thickness of the water, the haze, it’s getting so difficult to see, where the heck is the rest of my torch beam?
Then the realisation: I’m submerged in a sexy coral soup…
Fingers fumble with camera lights and dials, eyes searching for the sources of the spawn. Smouldering Porites recall the illusion of heat rising off bitumen on a hot afternoon while brightly coloured Acropora seem to be spewing 100’s & 1,000’s up into the water like confetti.
It’s finally happening!
The coral colonies so lovingly grown from rescued fragments, reared in our nurseries and planted back on the GBR by the RRF team are spawning as nature intended, contributing millions of egg and sperm bundles to the largest synchronised reproductive event on earth…and I’m down here in the thick of it all.
A couple of dives I definitely won’t soon forget and an abundance of pride for the work RRF have achieved in reaching this milestone through hard work, persistence, innovation and collaboration with our community.
I am forever humbled to be a part of this incredible journey and wonderful team who are striving every day for improved ecological outcomes for our reef.