Heavy Coral Spawning activity on the Anse Chastanet Reef at St.Lucia’s Anse Chastanet Resort resembled a heavy snowstorm, say divers who witnessed this phenomenon.
Soufriere, Sept 10 : In what has become a highly anticipated annual event at the Anse Chastanet Resort, nature did not disappoint this year as an extremely dramatic coral spawning event was witnessed by night diving scuba divers staying at Anse Chastanet. 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.
Based on experience at, it was predicted the main spawning events would occur on Thursday, September 6 and Friday, September 7. On Thursday, divers descended on the Anse Chastanet Reef waiting patiently for the spectacle to begin. Around 9:00 p.m., Brain and Elkhorn Corals began the spawning process with a modest release of the reproductive cells.
Divers again went in the water on Friday evening. Illuminated by dive lights, the event commenced at 9:30 p.m. when Boulder Brain corals started releasing their reproductive cells. What followed, as other coral varieties joined in, was the most massive and spectacular spawning event anyone on hand had ever seen.
While much about the coral spawning process remains a mystery, it is known that each species of coral on a reef synchronizes the timing of its spawning, which takes place only once each year. The key controlling factors are believed to be water temperature, the moon’s 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. Experience has determined the ideal time for the release of the reproductive cells is a week or so after a full moon when tides and currents are diminishing providing more hospitable conditions for the fertilization process. Also, spawning always begins an hour or two after sunset providing the cover of darkness as an additional advantage for survival.
The advantage of this 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. Because of this, Anse Chastanet divers who witnessed the spawning event were also treated to viewing schools of fish that appeared and resident crabs and lobsters that emerged from the reef to partake in the feeding frenzy.
Each year Anse Chastanet publicizes the predicted date of the spawning to allow resort guests and others to make plans to be on hand for this enjoyable display. While divers at the resort witness the events on the Anse Chastanet Reef directly off the beach, it is assumed that the spawning events happened at the same time on other reefs around the island. Anyone interested in additional information on the coral spawning event can contact Scuba St. Lucia at the Anse Chastanet Resort.