Coral Spawning 2009

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MariPampun_20090910_012_kleinOn September 10, 2009 my buddy Rob and I went for a night dive to watch the coral spawning. The coral spawning takes place twice a year a certain number of days after the first full moon in September and a second time the same number of days after the full moon in October. Depending on the species the number of days after full moon varies. It was expected that the peek of the coral spawning would be this night.

We went to the small bay of Marie Pampun; there we found out that an organized night dive had been cancelled because of the current. As another group of 4 divers went into the water we watched if they would come back because of the current. They drifted towards the West wich is in the opposite direction of what we normally would go, so either there was a strong current to the West and they were unable to swim against the current or the current was towards the East (unusual) and they started their dive into the current.

We went into the water ourselves to find out. We agreed to cancel the dive if the current would be too strong. Underwater we swam towards the drop-off and determined that there was a bit of current towards the East so we started our dive into the current towards the West. At a depth of between 20 and 14 meters we wandered over the reef carefully looking for spawning. The coral didn't look promising. But there was enough to see otherwise. MariPampun_20090910_005_kleinIt was my first dive with a long awaited focus/video light, the FIXLED1000DX. I had it mounted on top of my photocamera and it doubled as my dive light. With a wide bundle it was completely different from my other dive lights. It illuminated a wide area while all my other dive lights have a small bundle. The only disadvantage was that it didn't carry far in the slightly milky water.
The focus/dive light made it easy to take pictures. And its main purpose is to allow the camera to focus in the dark which worked wonderfully. None of my pictures was out-of-focus.

After a while I found a small patch of Star Coral with some signs of upcoming spawning. Some eggs floated around and I was able to take a picture of an egg that was just released and several others clearly visible in the coral polyps. I waited a while, took another picture but there was no mass spawning so I continued the dive. It was the only spawning that I have seen during the whole dive. We stayed under water for about 70 minutes but nothing else happened with respect to spawning. No Brittle Star activity, no spawning worms or sponges, nothing.

MariPampun_20090910_016_kleinLuckily we saw some other things that made the dive worthwile. A small squid (about 3 inches), a Hairy Clinging Crab, a Banded Clinging Crab which is normally almost impossible to photograph and a Caribbean Reef Octopus.  All in all a very nice dive with an acceptable current and a good experience with the new focus and video light for my underwater camera. This weekend I will find out if it is equally useful as a video light.

More pictures taken during this night dive can be found in the pictures section.