By chrisfraser64, Jan 16 2020 02:04PM
In late summer after a full moon, Elkhorn and Staghorn corals release a snowstorm of pink, yellow and orange globules which drift to the surface and pop open to release a mass of eggs and sperm. The sperm swim around frantically looking for eggs of nearby closely related corals and fertilize them. These fertilized eggs drift down and anchor themselves to the seabed and start begin to grow.
Elkhorn and Staghorn corals are one of the major building blocks of reefs in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, 95% were wiped out by a pathogenic, ‘white band disease’ in the 70s and 80s. This has had a catastrophic effect on the fish population that rely on the reef for protection.
However, recently marine biologists have discovered that these corals have started to develop a resistance to the disease. By cultivating fragments of these corals, they can start to grow disease-resistant branches and plant them to regenerate sections of the reef within a few years. Local fishermen are being taught how to farm these corals. It provides them with an income and the knowledge that, not only will the reef but also fish that depend on them will multiply. It’s a positive story.