Coral Sex- this is what scuba divers in Saint Lucia jokingly call the coral spawning event which usually takes place in August/September and can best be observed on the Anse Chastanet reef in the south west corner of the island, right off the Anse Chastanet beach.
The Anse Chastanet reef is one of the rare places divers can witness this miraculous event, one of nature’s most spectacular performances. For the island of Saint Lucia, coral spawning in 2011 is expected to occur approximately one week after the full moon in August which is on the 13th this year. So, the spawning should happen from about the 19-21.
It is not a precise science, which is why the diving operation Scuba St.Lucia – the PADI 5 * dive centre belonging to Anse Chastanet Resort and located right on the beach offers night diving on the Anse Chastanet reef daily during that time, to give divers every opportunity to be present at the right moment. You can see a short video of a previous year’s coral spawning on the Scuba St.Lucia Facebook, click here. View a photo album of coral spawning on the Anse Chastanet reef here.
Often described as an upside down snow storm, corals spawn by releasing millions of packets of egg and sperm cells that appear underwater as massive pink and white clouds that slowly drift to the surface where fertilization occurs. The next day the sea will be partially covered by pink slicks of coral larvae which represents the next generation of one of the ocean’s most vital organisms. Within a few weeks the larvae will settle on the bottom and begin the process of reef building.
While much of the coral spawning process remains a mystery to science, it is known that somehow each species of coral on a reef synchronizes the timing of its spawning, which takes place only once each year. The key controlling factors seem to be the water temperature, the lunar cycle, length of daylight hours and the tides. The development of the eggs and sperms are triggered by rising water temperatures during the summer leading to the spawning in late summer or early fall. The ideal time for the release of the reproductive cells has traditionally been experienced after a full moon when tides and currents are diminishing providing more hospitable conditions for the fertilization process.
The advantage nature has provided in the mass spawning process is to increase the chances of survival for the larvae. During spawning most will be eaten by fish and other sea organisms, but the huge numbers overwhelm the predators insuring that many will live to propagate the species. The process begins an hour or two after sunset providing the cover of darkness as well. Of course, this reproductive process takes on added significance at this time as the world’s coral reefs are being decimated by the effects of global warming and other environmental factors.
Anse Chastanet Resort, in conjunction with Scuba St.Lucia, offers a special summer dive weekly package for US 1869 per certified diver in double occupancy. The package includes: 7 nights run of house accommodation, airport transfers, breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, welcome drink and fruit basket on arrival, 12 beach or boat dives including tank, weights, belt, mask, snorkel, fins, complimentary non-motorized watersports, and all tax/service. A marine park fee of US 15 is to be paid locally.
Scuba St. Lucia offers special night dives during the period to allow guests to witness this magnificent spectacle. Diving is done on the Anse Chastanet reef, which is located just off the resort’s beach. Snorkelers can also participate as well.
Lush, tropical ANSE CHASTANET is one of the Caribbean’s most scenic resort hideaways. Nestled amidst a 600 acre estate with two soft sand beaches bordering pristine coral reefs, ANSE CHASTANET is in complete harmony with its natural surroundings and right in the heart of the island’s marine reserves. The active will enjoy the resort’s amazing range of adventure and resort facilities: two restaurants & bars, the Kai Belté spa, mountain bike facility with 12 miles of trails, kayaking centre, 42 ft sailing yacht, boutiques, library and art gallery.
The resort diving operation, SCUBA ST.LUCIA, caters to beginners and experienced divers alike. Beach, boat, wall and wreck diving are all offered. The night dives right on the ANSE CHASTANET reef are a highlight for any diver, particularly during coral spawning. To book a stay, call the resort reservation office at 1-800-223-1108 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – befriend the Facebook pages of Scuba St.Lucia and Anse Chastanet for regular updates.