Birds, fish and lizards were among the 170 species of marine life that “waxed and wiggled” their way to nature’s “magic place” during the world’s largest juvenile coral spawning event last week. The Great Barrier Reef celebrated the event in its Stirling Shoals, where 80 percent of the world’s juvenile corals emerge to breed, six months earlier than usual.
This paper-like growth caused wildlife to “wax and wiggle” their way into their natural habitat.
“This is not just an ordinary spawning event,” Zalea Jones, a professor at James Cook University, told The Guardian. “It’s nature at its best, nature at its most magical. This is a unique event to be within walking distance of hundreds of thousands of young coral – it’s only a matter of hours.”
Reef managers warned that the event was likely to be followed by mass bleaching this year because of warmer temperatures as a result of climate change.
“[This] confirms that we have a very bad year to come,” Ian Lowe, director of James Cook University’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, told News Corp Australia. “We’re talking about an exceptional, once-in-a-century event.”
Scientists believe the event is a reminder of how far the reef has been affected by climate change. For Kelly O’Shanassy, chief executive of the World Wildlife Fund Australia, it is a warning that climate change is simply not on the agenda as countries rush to ink new agreements to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
“Today is a grim reminder of how serious things are,” O’Shanassy told The Guardian. “The reef is in crisis but this demonstrates that scientists and our government need to hold global leaders to account – even if it means we have to wait until 2022.”