The Great Barrier Reef – Coral Spawning The Great Barrier Reef – Coral Spawning

The Great Barrier Reef – Coral Spawning


Great Barrier Reef coral spawning is an amazing natural phenomenon. What is it? It’s a synchronized event when hundreds of corals participate in a mass coral spawning (reproduction). It happens once a year, creating an amazing underwater snowstorm which both attracts and delights divers, marine biologists and reef lovers from around the world.

What is Coral Spawning?

It is coral reproduction and is also referred to as ‘sex on the reef’. It’s the time when all of the Great Barrier Reef’s corals simultaneously release their egg and sperm bundles into the ocean around them, for a mass fertilization event. The bundles slowly rise to the surface where fertilization begins. Once coral larva has formed, it sinks slowly down again and eventually settles on the ocean floor, commencing the start of a new coral colony. Spawning occurs over a few nights and can last up to a week.

When does Coral Spawning Happen?

Well there’s a few factors that help to predict when coral spawning might occur. Firstly, it will take place after a full moon, when rising water temperatures (the onset of summer) trigger the gametes to mature within the adult corals. Secondly, it will always occur at night, so to witness it, you either need to be on a dedicated coral spawning night trip, or on a liveaboard trip. More this below.

Although it is a mass event. It happens at different times across the Great Barrier Reef. After all, this is the largest living structure on the planet, with approximately 2,500 separate reefs, they don’t all spawn at exactly the same time / night. At best guess, the dates for Cairns Great Barrier Reef Coral Spawning 2015 are Sunday 29 and Monday 30 November 2015.

Cairns Coral Spawning Night Trips

Cairns coral spawning night trips are dedicated dive / snorkel trips that generally depart Cairns’ marina at around 5pm and return in the early hours of the following morning (between 1 – 2am). They are run by experienced Great Barrier Reef dive and snorkel operators and include all equipment, an evening meal and hot beverages (tea and coffee). You can choose between guided and unguided diving. Underwater torches are available.

These trips have limited numbers and do book out quickly, so it’s best to book now to secure your place.

Cairns coral spawning night trips are open to snorkelers and divers. Coral spawning is not guaranteed. It’s a natural event and can occur at any time, but the trips are planned to provide the best chance to witness this amazing event. Worst case scenario, you get to enjoy some night diving. See the Great Barrier Reef by torchlight and witness the night time predators cruising the coral gardens looking for dinner.

Cairns Coral Spawning Liveaboard Trips

Cairns coral spawning liveaboard trips offer the best chance to witness the mass coral spawning event. Why? You are at sea for a few different nights (rather than taking a dedicated night trip), so even if the marine biologists get their dates wrong, there’s more chance / opportunity to be there to see it.

There are no specific coral spawning liveaboard trips departing from Cairns, but there are a great number of liveaboard trips departing this tropical port city each and every day. So it’s just a matter of coordinating your booking around the predicted coral spawning dates.

Cairns liveaboard dive boats visit a number of Outer Great Barrier Reef sites, which are approximately 60km offshore. Water / dive depth varies anywhere from 5 – 35m, making these trips suitable for divers of all experience and certification levels. Travel time to and from the Outer Great Barrier Reef varies from 60 minutes to 2 hours, pending operator and location. Trips can be booked anywhere from 1 night to 7 nights.

Ribbon Reefs and Coral Sea Coral Spawning Trips

Ribbon Reefs and Coral Sea Coral Spawning trips are another great opportunity to catch this natural phenomenon in action. Again, these are not specific coral spawning trips, rather the ‘regular’ liveaboard expeditions that depart Cairns to visit the pristine waters and remote coral gardens of these two amazing destinations.

These trips vary in duration from 3 nights to 7 nights. Beginner divers would be best suited to the Ribbon Reef trips, due to conditions and water depths. The Coral Sea offers 1,000m drop offs and can experience more in-water currents, so are recommended for more experienced and advanced scuba divers.

The Ribbon Reefs and Coral Sea provide an amazing arena to witness coral spawning by night and some of the very best Great Barrier Reef diving by day. Book now to secure your berth on one of these trips.

Booking a Cairns Coral Spawning Trip

Dive in Australia is pleased to provide an easy booking service for all Cairns coral spawning dive trips, including liveaboard trips. Save money with no booking or credit card fees. We have experienced and witnessed coral spawning. We offer first-hand advice and can choose the operator and destination to best suit your experience and itinerary. Contact us today or FREE CALL 1800 323 703