(Newser) – The conditions were perfect for what ABC Australia calls “the world’s biggest sex event”. From part of the 1,429-mile-long Great Barrier Reef, marine biologist Gareth Phillips described witnessing a “magical” scene “with water as glass and beautiful light coming from the moon.” And trillions eggs and sperm are spread at all directions. This mass play of corals Events outside of Cairns, Queensland, only happen once a year, if conditions allow. Phillips says that corals will at the same time reproduce only at night, days after a full moon, if the sea is calm and remains above 78 degrees Fahrenheit for a month. “I have seen the corals go off at once, but this time there seemed to be different species playing in waves, one after the other,” he says, per CNN.
The AP describes release of eggs and sperm in “large plumes of red, yellow and orange.” The explosion of paint that was witnessed on Tuesday, and which is expected to last for two to three days, was a relief after coral bleaching episodes caused by warm sea temperatures in 2016, 2017 and 2020. A study released this month found that 98% of the reef has experienced bleaching since 1998 , according to CNN. “It’s gratifying to see the reef feed … after being in a recovery phase for more than 18 months,” said Phillips, who will be visiting other parts of the reef in the next few days. It is “another sign that the reef is recovering.” (Read more Great Barrier Reef stories.)