Octocoral Spawn (fwd)

Coral Health and Monitoring Program coral at aoml.noaa.gov
Thu Sep 12 12:16:53 EDT 1996

---------- Forwarded message ---------- 
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 11:51:13 -0400 
From: REEF003 at aol.com 
To: owner-coral-list at reef.aoml.noaa.gov 
Subject: Octocoral Spawn 

The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) hosted their annual 
Field Survey in Belize the week of September 1st through 7th.  The survey 
team did two dives beginning at dusk and then a later night dive in order 
to watch for the coral spawn and monitor any occurrences. As part of that 
team I witnessed the following: 

9/1/96 6:45pm Northwest Crawl Caye,Turneffe Reef, Belize ( 17 36.35N, 87 
48.35W ) 

Spawning of the Ruby Brittle Star. Many brittle stars were seen 
mounting sea fans, arching high and releasing bundles and sperm, in some 
cases this continued for longer than twenty minutes.The isolated spawning 
of these brittle stars was seen again on subsequent evenings but not 
massed as it appeared on this evening. 

9/4/96 6:45pm Que Brada, Lighthouse Reef, Belize (17 13.04N, 87 36.65W) 

Two heads of brain coral (species not yet identified) spawning bundles for 
approx. 25 minutes after being located. The release was slow, there was no 
current. Bundles drifted slowly upwards and two Four-Eye Butterflyfish as 
well as species of brittle star were seen feeding on the bundles.  The 
colony was about 2ft in diameter and was located about 25ft from the 
drop-off of a deep wall. 

9/4/96 10:05pm Que Brada, Lighthouse Reef, Belize 

I located a single colony of octocoral (species not yet identified, probably 
genus Eunicea) releasing bundles for approx. twenty minutes after being 
located in a depth of 35ft. The release was slow, the bundles drifted up and 
there was no current. Nothing was seen feeding on the bundles. The colony was 
approx. 2.5ft tall located in a sandy patch about 60ft from the drop-off of a 
deep wall. 

9/5/96 6:10pm Dead Mans Point, Turneffe Reef, Belize (17 10.91N, 87 51.87W) 

A small colony (approx 1ft in diameter) of brain coral (species not yet 
identified) was found smoking at 6:10pm just before dusk. The quick release 
was at timed intervals about a minute apart and the smoking continued for 
approx. twenty minutes after the colony was located. The colony was on a high 
ridge of star coral next to a large sand channel and about 60ft from a deep 
wall drop-off. 

I am interested to hear of other observations during the coral spawn week 
and to know whether the spawning of octocorals has been witnessed and/or 
documented elsewhere. 

Deena Wells 

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