When the Ocean Gets Choppy, Corals Clone
Photo: Heyward & Negri, AIMS
Coral eggs are rich in waxy fat, which provides energy during development, and buoyancy, helping them float to the ocean surface during spawning.
At the ocean surface, the individual eggs separate and become fertilized. It is typical for "broadcast spawned" coral eggs to be pastel-colored, often pink, red or orange, and roughly uniform in size for each colony and species.
Because they are buoyant, the spawned eggs and embryos get pushed about like flotsam, sometimes forming pink slicks on the ocean. During this time, they are exposed to currents and waves.