Coral Reefs

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 119–124 | Cite as

Synchronous reproduction of corals in the Red Sea

  • M. H. Hanafy
  • M. A. Aamer
  • M. Habib
  • Anthony B. Rouphael
  • Andrew H. BairdEmail author


Multi-species synchronous spawning was first described on reefs off the east and west coast of Australia. In contrast, locally abundant species in the northern Red Sea and the central Pacific have little overlap in the time of reproduction. Consequently, the idea developed that high levels of spawning synchrony both within and among species was largely confined to Australian reefs. Here, we show that gamete maturity in colonies of the genus Acropora was highly synchronous in the Red Sea. In early April 2008, at two locations separated by 300 km, 13 of 24 species sampled had mature colonies, and a further 9 species had immature colonies. In late April–early May 2008, all colonies sampled had no oocytes, indicating colonies had spawned a few days after the full moon of 20 April 2008. Similarly, in 2009, 99% of colonies from 17 species at Hurghada were mature in late April, and all were empty in early May. Spawn slicks suggested many of these colonies had released gametes three night prior to the full moon on 8 May 2009. This level of synchrony in gamete maturity is among the highest ever recorded and similar to that typically recorded in Acropora assemblages on Australian reefs. While further work is required to document the night of gamete release, these data strongly suggest that high levels of spawning synchrony are a regular feature of these Red Sea coral assemblages and that multi-species spawning occurs on or around the full moon in April and/or May.


Coral reefs Reproduction Spawning synchrony 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. H. Hanafy
    • 1
  • M. A. Aamer
    • 1
  • M. Habib
    • 2
  • Anthony B. Rouphael
    • 3
  • Andrew H. Baird
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Marine Science Department, Faculty of ScienceSuez Canal UniversityIsmailiaEgypt
  2. 2.Head of Environmental CommitteeRed Sea Association for Diving and Marine ActivitiesHurghadaEgypt
  3. 3.Marine Biodiversity and Conservation Science Group IUCN Global Marine ProgramMalagaSpain
  4. 4.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef StudiesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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