Spawntaneous Generation

Every August, several species of reef-building corals at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary put on a fantastic spawning display. It may be the most prolific spawning event in the entire Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico! A few nights after the full moon, large numbers of corals broadcast reproductive material into the water column where it has the opportunity to mix and produce larvae. Those larvae will drift along in the ocean until they find a suitable place to settle and produce a new generation. Coral spawning can connect reefs over long distances, and makes sure that reefs have a high degree of genetic diversity.

Coral spawning

Because of the high abundance of corals at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, the August coral spawning creates blizzard-like conditions underwater. Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA