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Australia’s Barrier Reef erupts in color as corals spawn

Australia’s Barrier Reef erupts in color as corals spawn

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CANBERRA, Australia—Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is spawning in an explosion of color as the World Heritage-listed natural wonder recovers from life-threatening coral bleaching episodes.

Scientists on Tuesday night recorded the corals fertilizing billions of offspring by casting sperm and eggs into the Pacific Ocean off the Queensland state coastal city of Cairns.

The spawning event lasts for two or three days.

The network of 2,500 reefs covering 134,000 square miles suffered significantly from bleaching caused by unusually warm ocean temperatures in 2016, 2017 and last year.

The bleaching damaged two-thirds of the coral.

Gareth Phillips, a marine scientist with Reef Teach, a tourism and educational business, is studying the spawning.

“It is gratifying to see the reef give birth,” Phillips said. “It’s a strong demonstration that its ecological functions are intact.”

“The reef has gone through its own troubles like we all have, but it can still respond—and that gives us hope. I think we must all focus on the victories as we emerge from the pandemic,” he added.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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