2024 Edition

Tom Shlesinger

Underwater colorful snowstorm

Branching coral spawning, Red Sea, 2019

Category - Ocean Worlds

Underwater colorful snowstorm

At first glance, it looks like a colourful snowstorm has broken out underwater. In reality, it is a very rare scene of the reproduction of an extraordinary marine animal: the coral. Coral spawning generally only occurs once a year, in a synchronised way, at a very precise moment of the night and for a very short time window of only a few minutes. At the exact same time, thousands of corals of a given species along hundreds of kilometres of the reef reproduce by spawning egg-and-sperm bundles altogether into the open sea. These bundles will be carried away by the currents, mixing in the water, until they finally encounter a match—a sperm will fertilize an egg and new life will be created.  This photo is part of an ongoing scientific project documenting the nightlife and unique reproductive phenomena of corals and other inhabitants of the coral reef along the Red Sea coast of Eilat, Israel.

90 mm f/2.8 Lens - 1/160 sec at f/16 ISO 200