Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Moonlight Causes Mating Frenzy in Corals

In 1982, scientists discovered that at night, just after the full moon corals go into an “orgy of reproduction.” Trillions of eggs and sperm are dissipated into the water to form new life. This mating frenzy can even leave pink floating debris- ironically enough a color usually thought to symbolize love in our culture. This mysterious occurrence is found to take place in the summer but is found that the moon rules this production and depositing of eggs and sperm in order to form young. Whenever people ask Alina M.Szmant, a coral expert at the University of Carolina Wilmington, why do the corals release their eggs and sperm during the specific phase of the moon and her answer always is "It's a mystery."

Today, seven scientists from Australia, Israel, and the United States have found that corals have primitive photoreceptors. These photoreceptors act as eyes for the corals that respond to moonlight when stimulated. The finding of these photoreceptors give a link in order to figure out why these coral reproduce at the exact same time of the year.

This finding opens the door to further research. Scientists’ used to think that corals were brainless creatures that do not respond to any changes in their environment; turns out they are more complex than assumed.

Posted by Kayla Carrero(5).


At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the most interesting blog that I’ve read yet. I had no idea that corals released eggs in regulation to the moon. Now this “orgy” only takes place during the summer, do you know more about why this process seems to only occur during this season? Does the release of eggs and sperm have to do with the temp of the water or how bright the moon is? I’m interested to see if there are any other key factors that play into the timing of this process.

If scientist can figure out this phenomenon then maybe we can find away to nurture coral in captivity, which could help with the depilation of coral each year due to the destructive fishing practices that are still in practice.

Posted By: Rachel McMahon (5)

At 6:21 PM, Anonymous Peanutbutter&Jelly said...

Very interesting! I had no idea that Corals could do that, in fact I never really heard anything about them in particular, just knew that Corals existed. I just thought it was really interesting that they leave pink debris, which is the sign of love for us. I wonder if it means anything to them or shows some sign of mating or something. I also found it interesting that they have photoreceptors that act as eyes only in the moonlight so, does this mean that these photoreceptors aren't active during the entire day? Hmm! This was a very interesting article to read and helped me learn something new as well. I loved it!

Posted by Peanutbutter&Jelly (PB&J)

At 11:38 PM, Blogger PWH said...

Interesting article! You may not be able to answer this question, but I was wondering if coral photoreceptor can only be stimulated by moonlight? I would think that sunlight would also increases this behavior while increasing reproduction, but at the same time that would mean that they would have to reproduce constantly during the summers, which would not make sense. Do you know what the pink secretion released by these corals is? It is good to know that event though these creatures may not have a brain similar to humans they still have cognitive abilities permiting them to be receptive to stimuli just like humans.

Posted by Vanessa Raphael (5)


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