Written by Dr. Valeria Pizarro, Research Associate, PIMS/CEI

Did you know that some coral species release their gametes (eggs and sperm) to the water column once a year? Did you know that the first stage of the corals life cycle is a free swimming larvae and they become sessile (attached to the bottom and can not move) when they find a suitable substrate? Did you know that coral restoration scientists and managers are using this knowledge to rear corals from the moment they are sexually produced?

Since last month The Bahamas Innovation Hub, at Cape Eleuthera Institute is monitoring corals to obtain knowledge on when and at what time corals in The Bahamas reproduce sexually. This is key information for our restoration project, it will give us the opportunity to collect gametes every month, from April until October, from different coral species and rear them in the laboratory until they are settled. After few days/weeks, when coral larvae have transformed into recruits we will outplant them into reefs in thousands with the expectation that few hundred survive and in few years they will release their gametes to continue the cycle of life. 

Above: Orbiecella annularis spawning.
Above: Diploria labyrinthiformis recruit.
Above: Diploria labyrinthiformis recruit.
Above: Pseudodiploria strigosa spawning.

This month we monitored in the lab, due to bad weather, the coral Grooved Brain (Diploria labyrinthiformis). One of the five colonies spawned and we did a self-fertilization experiment, although is very rare, we have two coral recruits in one tetrapod! In June we will be monitoring again, Grooved Brain Coral (Diploria labyrinthiformis). This species can spawn few months on a row (not the same colonies though) with John Parkinson from our partner SECORE. In addition, we aim to collect gametes from different colonies and rear their larvae in the wetlab. Stay tuned for updates!

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