Coral Spawning Flower Garden Banks

G.P Schmahl george.schmahl at
Wed Sep 26 14:58:33 EDT 2001

Apologies for the tardiness of this post, but the following are
observations of coral spawning within the Flower Garden Banks National
Marine Sanctuary, northwestern Gulf of Mexico (approximately 27 degrees
56 minutes north latitude, 93 degrees 44 minutes west longitude).

Two pronounced coral spawning events were witnessed this year, following
the full moon of August and September.

Observations in this report are by Sanctuary staff (G.P. Schmahl, Emma
Hickerson, Jennifer DeBose, Kevin Buch), and Dr. Peter Vize (University
of Calgary); with additional contributions by Eric Borneman (University
of Houston) and James Wiseman.  Times are given as local time - Central
Daylight Time (CDT).


Full Moon:  August 4, 2001, 12:56 am
Observations were made on August 9, 10 and 11.

August 9, 2001
Montastrea franksi:  9:40pm - 10:00pm (many colonies)

Other observations:
Unidentified brittlestar (Ophioderma sp.) - female releasing eggs

August 10, 2001
Montastrea cavernosa males: 9:00pm - 9:35pm (a few colonies)
Montastrea cavernosa females: 9:45pm (a few colonies)
Diploria strigosa: 9:00pm - 10:30+pm (many colonies)
Montastrea franksi: 9:45 pm - 10:30+pm (many colonies)

Other observations:
Spirobranchus giganteus (Christmas tree worm): 10:00pm - 10:18pm (few
male and female)
Eunicid polychaete worms (Lysidice ninetta) in water column.  Collected
specimens were full of gametes.

August 11, 2001
Diploria strigosa: 10:30+pm  (very few colonies)
Montastrea franksi: 10:20pm - 10:50pm (many colonies)
Stephanocoenia michelinii: 10:30pm (1 male only)

Other observations:
Ophioderma rubicundum: 9:00pm - 10:20pm (many observed, but few
displaying female egg release behavior)


Full moon:  September 2, 2001, 4:43 pm.
Observations were made on September 9 and 10.

September 8, 2001 - No spawning reported by divers on the Sea Searcher,
a dive charter vessel with experienced coral observers from the Aquarium
of the Americas aboard.

September 9, 2001
Diploria strigosa: 9:05pm - 10:00+pm (many colonies)
Montastrea franksi: 9:15pm - 10:00+pm (many colonies)
Montastrea cavernosa males: 9:10pm - 9:15pm (2 colonies)
Montastrea cavernosa females: 9:15pm - 9:30pm (2 colonies)

Significant accumulation of coral gametes on the surface by 10:45pm

September 10, 2001
Diploria strigosa: 9:15pm - 10:06pm  (many colonies)
Montastrea franksi: 9:17pm - 9:54pm  (many colonies)
Stephanocoenia michelinii: 10:15pm - 10:25pm (few colonies - male and

Significant accumulation of coral gametes on the surface by 10:45pm

No observations conducted on September 11.

Very little spawning by Montastrea cavernosa in September.
No spawning behavior observed by brittle stars or christmas tree worms
in September.

G.P. Schmahl
Sanctuary Manager
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
216 W. 26th Street, Suite 104
Bryan, TX   77803

(979) 779-2705
(979) 779-2334 (fax)
george.schmahl at

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