Coral spawning, a rare phenomenon that is popularly referred to as ‘sex-on-the-reef,’ has been recorded scientifically for the first time along the Lakshadweep islands on India’s west coast, a researcher of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has reported.

The occurrence, generally observed after full-moon nights once a year, is a magnificent phenomenon, which involves mass expulsion of colourful eggs and sperm clouds into the water by corals. The gametes then rise to the ocean surface, spreading a colourful slick.

The slick was first observed by WTI marine biologist Subburaman S last week, and also by a team of the Central Marine Fisheries and Research Institute (CMFRI).

“I was travelling by boat when I noticed an interesting effect in the water. Out of curiosity, I collected some pink and brown spawn for examination,” Mr. Subburaman was quoted as saying by a WTI release here.

With the support of CMFRI scientists Jasmine and R. Srinath, Mr. Subburaman examined the samples and confirmed that they were indeed coral spawn.

Environment wardens Abdul Raheem and Sayeed Ali said the finding proved that Lakshadweep’s corals were recovering from the stress they suffered after El Ni 2010.

During spawning, the eggs are fertilised and larvae formed. The larvae then float till they find suitable substrates (a place for an organism to live), settle there and form their own colonies, helping the corals to thrive.