Our corals have spawned

Few weeks ago, I was invited to join on a coral spawning trip with NParks and some researchers.
Typically, corals in Singapore release their eggs and sperms bundles few days after Easter.

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Spawning Galexea sp.

The location we went to was Pulau Satumu, where Raffless Lighthouse is situated. Proper permit was obtained prior to the trips.

Corals spawn after sunset, with many of them spawning later in the night. So while waiting for the corals to spawn and also to catch the early spawners, we started diving from dusk.

There were many other interesting critters to see as well.

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False clown anemone fish

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Shallow reef scape of Pulau Satumu

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Echinothrix urchin

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Coral crab

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Hawksbill Turtle

Later in the night, some pretty egg-citing spawning happened.

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Coral releasing sperms

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Remnants of egg bundles left on the coral after a burst of release.

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Coral releasing egg bundles

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Galexea sp. coral with a released bundle of eggs.

If you are wondering how to take photos of coral spawning underwater, here are some tips:

1. Lights

Corals spawn later in the night, so the reef will be dark. You will need lots of light in order for your camera to detect the eggs. However the corals are very sensitive to large amount of lights, so it is best to have lights with dimmer options to allow the corals to start their spawning activity.

2. Macro function on your camera

The eggs bundles are very tiny, so a camera without macro mode would be of a challenge to use if you want to document individualised action. If you want to capture that burst of release, then it would not have a problem.

3. Follow that pink blob, backwards

Experienced coral spawning watcher, Chay Hoon, told me that there are no tricks to coral spawning. You just have to look out for bundles of egg floating in the water and trace them back to the coral that is releasing it.

Sometimes, I find that my actions are too slow and by the time I found the coral, I’m already towards the end of that action burst. So I have to wait some time for the coral to build up energy for another round of release.

4. Keep yourself warm

As coral spawning dives are pretty shallow, we can almost stay up to 2 hours or longer on a tank of air. It will start to get pretty cold, the longer you stay in the water. So it is important to keep yourself warm in the water. (Peeing also help in some way.)

5. Be aware of your surrounding

For new coral spawning watchers, it is a real excitement to see a coral colony spawn right in front of you. However, I need to constantly be on the lookout for those sneaky long-spined sea urchin lurking everywhere along the reef. Always sweep around your area before you decide to park yourself near the corals.

Here’s a video of the egg bundles in water column.


 

Alternatively, if you feel lazy, you can see the egg bundles float on the water surface from the boat.

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